Handling Foodborne Illness Complaints

Q: How should I handle a customer who complains that they got sick from a meal they ate at my restaurant, and how do I know if it was even my food that made them sick?

A:  It may not be.  Always treat the customer with respect, and gather as much information as you can, including their name and phone number, types of foods that they ate, date of the meal and the date that they got sick.  If 2 or more unrelated persons experienced the same symptoms after eating the same foods, it would be considered an outbreak.  If the local health department receives complaints of an outbreak nature, they will most likely do an investigation to identify the cause and any information you collected could be helpful.   Keep in mind that it often takes time for symptoms to develop in case of an infection – this person’s illness might be from something that was eaten days earlier at a different establishment or even at home.

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