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USDA Commodity Complaints

Nutrition Services Division Management Bulletin

To: Food Distribution Program Recipient Agencies

Number: 04-405

Attention: Food Program (or Service) Director

Date: December 2004

Subject: United States Department of Agriculture Commodity Complaints

Reference: Management Bulletin 96-400, Management Bulletin 00-400, and Management Bulletin 01-411

This Management Bulletin provides revised complaint procedures for United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) commodities.

Effective school year 2004-2005, USDA is changing its protocol for managing commodity complaints. USDA is now requiring that all commodity complaints be submitted to the state.

USDA has begun transitioning to a new Commodity Complaint database within its Electronic Commodity Ordering System (ECOS) and is expecting this new system to be operational early next year. Eventually, states will be able to enter their complaints about USDA donated commodities directly into ECOS. This will be a significant improvement in USDA's ability to track and respond to complaints about commodities in a timely manner.

Although USDA makes every effort to ensure that commodities provided through the Food Distribution Program are nutritious and of the highest quality, recipients may encounter a problem from time to time. When a problem involves the quality of the product, foreign material in a product, poor packaging of a product, or cooking or preparation issues, recipients should file a complaint. However, if a product is more than six months old, USDA will probably not be able to replace the product, because the vendor will no longer have a contract with them. Additionally, USDA has indicated that unless there is a significant quantity of product involved with the complaint, entitlement credit or product replacement may not occur.

It is important to file commodity complaints because they can lead to specification improvements, can help monitor vendor performance, and can help indicate possible trends.

Please contact your assigned commodity consultant to report a USDA commodity complaint. Additionally, the attached USDA Commodity Complaint Form [Note: name has been changed to USDA Foods Complaint Form] will expedite the reporting of commodity complaints. The form is available electronically at and should be submitted to your assigned commodity consultant.

Please share this information with your district/agency management and business personnel, as appropriate. If you have any questions, please contact Amy Bell, at 916-322-5051 or 800-952-5609, or


USDA Commodity Complaint Form and Instructions [Note: name has been changed to USDA Foods Complaint Form and Instructions] at

Questions:   Nutrition Services Division | 800-952-5609
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, July 28, 2015

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