General Contact Number: (530) 621-5567

Environmental Health

Filing a Food Facility Complaint with the Environmental Health Division

Food Related Complaints:
Please use the following questions and answers as a guide on how to submit a complaint about food or a food business. We hope that all of your dining experiences in El Dorado County are pleasant and healthy. Please remember that all complainant information is confidential. If you would like a Health Specialist to contact you and take a report please submit the online form.

  • I got sick from eating food, what should I do?
    If you are sick from eating food, contact your doctor. If you would like to make a complaint about a food-related (or foodborne) illness that you feel is associated with a restaurant or other food facility located in this county, contact our office at (530) 621-5300 in Placerville, or (530) 573-3450 in South Lake Tahoe. 
    • Be prepared to answer the following questions as specifically as possible. All information is strictly confidential:
      1.   Name, age, address, occupation.
      2.   Who else is in your family? Names, ages.
      3.   Are they ill?
      4.   Who else ate the suspected meal with you? Are they ill?
      5.   Did you see a doctor? If so, who, where, and when.
      6.   What are/were your symptoms? Be very specific.
      7.   What was the time when you first noticed a symptom?
      8.   How long did your symptoms last?
      9.   Do you have any pets?
      10. Do you have public or private (well and septic system) utilities?
      11. Any other comments that you may have or questions that the Environmental Health Specialist may have that could be pertinent to the investigation.
      12. Complete meal history: starting at the time of the suspected meal and going back 72 hours.
      • Include drinks (with or without ice) and all snacks in the meal history.
      • Include all condiments or garnishes consumed.
      • Include all restaurants (including their locations) where you had these meals.
      • If others in your family are ill, what is their 72-hour meal history?
    • You may be asking why all this information is necessary. There are many different bacteria and viruses that could make a person ill, and there could be many variables involved. Your age, general health, and how much contaminated food you ate could all be factors. At-risk people can become very ill and can even die from some forms of foodborne illness because their immune systems are less able to fight off the bacteria. Specific viruses or bacteria could be identified from the symptoms an ill person experiences, what type of food was consumed, and when and how long symptoms persist. Some bacteria and virus makes us sick quickly, and some could take days. At times, a virus or bacteria can be isolated with medical tests. Because there are several types of foodborne illness-causing viruses and bacteria, narrowing the field with the help of the questions listed above will greatly help the investigation of the Environmental Health Specialist.
  • I bought packaged food from a grocery store and it was bad (moldy bread, rancid meat, contaminated canned product, etc.). What should I do?
    For complaints about packaged food or meat products from a retail store, contact the State Department of Health services Food and Drug Branch Consumer Hotline: (800) 495-3232
  • I saw a cockroach/mouse or otherwise have a complaint about how food was prepared in a restaurant - what do I do?
    If you have a complaint about unhealthy conditions such as uncleanliness, poor food handling practices, or unsafe food, contact our office at (530) 621-5300 in Placerville, or (530) 573-3450 in South Lake Tahoe. An Environmental Health Specialist will investigate the complaint.
  • I had horrible service, and the manager didn't care when I told him about the wait staff.
    If you have a complaint that is not related to unhealthy conditions, such as poor service, you should complain to the restaurant manager and/or the Better Business Bureau.

    Additional Information (From the USDA FSIS)

    If you have a problem with a food product...

  • Separate government agencies are responsible for protecting different segments of the food supply. If you have experienced a problem with a food product, be sure to contact the appropriate public health organization.  
  • For Help With Meat, Poultry And Egg Products:
    Call the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854).  
  • For Help With Restaurant Food Problems: Call the Health Department (or Environmental Health/Management Department) in your city, county or state.
  • For Help With Non-Meat Food Products (Cereals, Fish, Produce, Fruit Juice, Pastas, Cheeses, etc): For complaints about food products which do not contain meat or poultry -- such as cereal -- call or write to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Check your local phone book under U.S. Government, Health and Human Services, to find an FDA office in your area. The FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition can be reached at 1-888-723-3366.
  • If you think you are ill, see a physician.

The Bottom Line:
If you sense there's a problem with any food product, don't consume it.
"When in doubt, throw it out."