The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) below, as well as others
reached through the links on the left, cover basic and timely
information and guidance for those interested in the many products
FDA regulates and other agency responsibilities. Answers usually
include further links to in-depth information included throughout
FDA's Website, as well as on the sites of other government
If you can't find the answer to a question here, try one of
the following options:
- Search the FDA Website.
- Check out the FDA Website
- Refer to the site map.
- Go to Information for Consumers for
more consumer-oriented materials or to learn how to contact
the agency directly.
FDA ensures that the food we
eat is safe and wholesome, that the cosmetics we
use won't harm us, and that medicines, medical
devices, and radiation-emitting consumer
products such as microwave ovens are safe and effective. FDA also oversees feed
and drugs for pets and farm animals. Authorized by Congress to enforce
the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic
Act and several other public health laws, the
agency monitors the manufacture, import, transport, storage, and sale of $1
trillion worth of goods annually, at a cost to taxpayers of about $3 a person.
FDA has over 9,000 employees, located in 167 U.S. cities. Among its staff,
FDA has chemists, microbiologists, and other scientists, as well as investigators
and inspectors who visit 16,000 facilities a year as part of their oversight
of the businesses that FDA regulates.
Products found to be unfit for consumers are withdrawn from the marketplace,
either by voluntary recall or by court-ordered seizure. These products usually
are destroyed, or in some cases, they are reconditioned to be in compliance
with FDA regulations.
Take it back to the place of purchase and ask for a refund. Stores generally
have a return and refund policy when a company has announced a recall of its
For general food safety questions, call the FDA Consumer Hotline at 888-INFO-FDA
(888-463-6332). If you have a question about seafood, call the FDA Seafood
Hotline at 800-FDA-4010. If your questions involve meat or poultry products,
call the U.S. Department of Agriculture's hotline
at 800-535-4555. If the situation is critical, phone the agency's emergency
number, 301-443-1240, which is staffed 24 hours a day. For more on food safety,
go to FDA's Center for Food Safety
and Applied Nutrition's home page.
The Environmental Protection Agency regulates
the sale and use of pesticides. But FDA regularly tests foods to determine
if pesticides are present in unacceptable amounts. If elevated levels are found,
the agency takes corrective action.
Controlling the illegal use of "street" drugs such as heroin,
cocaine and marijuana is the job of the federal Drug Enforcement
Administration (DEA). However, if a street drug were to be studied for
legitimate medical uses, FDA would regulate it as an investigational drug.
FDA-regulated prescription drugs such as barbiturates and amphetamines are
sometimes abused and wind up as street drugs. These cases then fall into DEA's
Contact your doctor right away and urge him or her to report the problem to
the FDA MedWatch hotline, 800-FDA-1088. Your doctor, however, is not required
to report to FDA. Therefore, consumers can report problems directly. For more
information, visit the MedWatch Website.
In general, any citizen can submit
comments on rules FDA proposes. The agency announces rules in the Federal
Register and usually accepts comments for 60 days. The Federal Register is
available in many libraries or on FDA's
Website. FDA urges consumers to participate in the rulemaking process.
For more information about submitting comments, call the FDA Dockets Management
Branch at 301-827-6860.
FOIA requests are best made by sending a letter specifying exactly what material
you seek to FDA, Freedom of Information Staff (HFI-35), 5600 Fishers Lane,
Rockville, MD 20857. For more on FOIA requests, call 301-827-6567 or have a
look at the Handbook for Requesting
Information and Records from FDA on this Web site.
Contact the FDA Office of the Chief Mediator and Ombudsman,
301-827-3390. If the complaint concerns human drugs, contact the Center for
Drug Evaluation and Research's ombudsman at 301-594-5443;
for biologics, 301-827-2000; for veterinary
should I contact if I am interested in a job at the FDA?
See Working at FDA for information on current
vacancies, employment benefits, and career descriptions. Additionally, the
Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has a site to obtain "Applications
for Federal Employment". To contact the FDA on personnel issues send correspondence
Division of Human Resources Management
5600 Fishers Lane
Room 7B-43, Mail Code HFA-415
Rockville, MD 20857
I contact the FDA?
If you want to communicate your comments, questions or suggestions to FDA,
please start with our "Contact FDA" page.