The Seattle Times reported today on a new hot-line to handle food safety complaints. The new hotline, which has not been widely publicized — why not?? — has received about 30 food-safety complaints since it was launched on January 18. According to the paper, these are the types of calls they get:
- A local woman whose son, allergic to walnuts, nearly ate from a bag of pre-cut salad mix that contained nuts even though they weren’t listed as an ingredient. The woman worried that someone else might have an allergic reaction to the mislabeled product.
- A man discovered mold on the meat-filled breakfast burrito he’d purchased at a convenience store.
- A woman was dismayed to find larvae in an energy snack bar.
These are among the calls consumers have made to the new toll-free Food Safety Consumer Complaint Hotline (1-800-843-7890) launched in January by the Washington State Department of Agriculture.
Goal: to reduce the risk of food-borne illness by making it easier for consumers to lodge complaints and for officials to address them.
The hotline takes food-safety complaints, then refers them to the appropriate agency.
Nationally, an estimated 76 million cases of food-borne illness occur every year, though far fewer are actually reported because people often don’t realize their symptoms are food-linked. A case of intestinal distress, for instance, may erroneously be attributed to flu instead of salmonella in food.