Worried about food places and health risks? Let us guide you. Here are the steps for calling and complaining to the health department:
Report a food safety violation. Simple!
If you think there’s a food safety issue, the best thing to do is contact your local health department. Explain what the problem is and where. Give names of any foods or products that could be involved. Provide some details about yourself and why you’re calling. Don’t try to solve it yourself. Just give the health department accurate information so they can take action.
Understanding Food Safety Regulations
Call the health department if you think you’ve seen a food safety violation. Before doing so, understand the regulations that govern food safety. This will help your complaint be taken seriously and explain what changes need to be made.
Know about the federal, state, or local regulations related to food safety. The USDA may have an overall framework. Most states require certification for food production and handling. The NRA offers training.
State health departments keep records of complaints, citations, and warnings. Provide as much detail as possible when making your call. Fines and other penalties may be imposed on operators or owners for not maintaining safe conditions.
Identifying a Food Safety Violation
Keeping people healthy is important. Food safety violations can happen in places like restaurants, grocery stores, and other commercial businesses. Examples are bad food storage, not washing hands, and no food protection plans.
If you see or experience a possible food safety violation, call your local health department quickly. This helps public health and makes sure businesses follow the rules. Processes for reporting violations may differ.
When you call, be ready with when and where the incident happened. They may ask for more info or documentation, like dates of eating (if applicable), pictures of food served, or receipts.
Reporting violations is important. But, some areas may not be able to investigate certain private facilities. Check with an official to know the limits.
Preparing to Report the Violation
Before calling the health department to report a food safety violation, there are steps you can take to prepare.
Gather evidence. Take photos or videos of violations or make notes on your observations. Get the address, phone number, manager name, and type of business.
Verify credentials. Make sure the health department is responsible for regulating and inspecting restaurants in that area. Some rely on county offices or state agencies.
Consider submitting your complaint online. Most forms require detailed info about the violation and contact info for follow-up.
Research contact info. Find out late evening hours and if they speak other languages. Look up 311 non-emergency services or Yelp customer reviews.
Locating Your Local Health Department
Suspicious food safety violations? Reach out to the local health department right away! Finding the right people may seem hard, but there are a few simple actions you can take.
Start by going to your state’s health department website. Every state has different health departments, so make sure you know how they are structured. Look on their page for contact details. If you can’t find it, check for instructions on how to call or email.
If the website doesn’t help, search for the name of your town or county plus ‘health’ or ‘food safety’. Make a note of any local numbers that come up. You can also use a government directory to find out who to call and where they are in the community.
If nothing else works, contact your state’s main health department office. They can help you find the right agency and get answers about how to handle food safety in your area. Follow these steps and you’ll soon have the info you need.
Making the Call
In the US, each state has a department that regulates food safety and sanitation. This department is called the Health Department. It makes sure food establishments follow the right safety and sanitation standards. It could be part of a county or municipal government, or it could be part of the state health and human services organization.
If you spot a possible hazardous violation in a food establishment, like a restaurant, store, or cafeteria, call your local health department. Maybe give your name and contact info so they can keep in touch. Most health departments prefer to stay anonymous, though, so don’t give your name unless you want to stay involved.
When you call, give lots of details. Don’t sound hostile or accusatory. For example, say what kind of violation it was, where it happened, when it happened, who was there (if you know), if you have photos or videos, and why the violation endangers public health.
Understand that all investigations will be private. No harm will come to anyone until an official ruling is made.
Following up on the Report
Once a food safety violation is reported to the Health Department, follow-up is important. Here are some tips for busy operators who need help understanding their obligations and following up:
- Contact the Health Department ASAP after submitting a report of a potential violation. This stops further violations that could harm patrons.
- Reach out to the inspector or duty officer when you get an inspection or notice that needs action within a timeline.
- Keep track of deadlines and compliance notices from your local health department, especially those related to health inspections and corrective action requests.
- Get help from food safety experts or specialized vendors to understand local regulations before an inspection.
- Stay in contact with local health department officials and ask for food safety info if needed in the future.
Calling the health department for a food safety violation is serious. Have all the details and documents ready. Think carefully before taking action. Follow legal guidelines. Keep records of all interactions. Be aware of food safety laws.
This will help businesses, consumers, and the health department work together to keep food safe.