N D S U Home Page  North Dakota State University
  Ag Law Text Banner

Basic Regulatory Strategies

INFORMATION find our service links to the right   Home  About this Site   AGEC Home 

QUICK LINKS For related links to this site, look below
 Reference Topics
 Related Links
 Contact Author

Best if printed in landscape.

Food Safety Regulatory Issues (SAFE 408/608)

Introduction to Food Safety Regulatory Issues
History of US Food Law (sec 1)
Purpose of Food Law (sec 2)
Relevant Agencies and Organizations (sec 3)
Regulatory Strategies (sec 4)
Regulating the Food Processing Sector (sec 5)
Directing Other Sectors of the Industry (sec 6)
Concluding Thoughts (sec 7)
Summary (sec 8)

Basic Regulatory Strategies (sec 4)

The purpose of this page is to briefly introduce the strategies used in the United States to direct each sector in the food industry to follow practices that minimize the risk of a food safety problem.

Remember:  Food law is not intended to guarantee safe food; that is an impossible task.  The best that can be done is to reduce the risk of unsafe food.

The U.S. food system can be described as consisting of several basic sectors:

  • Production sector that produces agricultural commodities such as grain, livestock, milk, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Processing or manufacturing sector that converts the agricultural commodities into food products, such as grain to flour and milk to cheese; this sector also includes food transportation and storage.
  • Restaurants and similar service entities that complete the final preparation of food consumed away from home.
  • Retail sector; that is, the grocery stores that sell to consumers for home preparation and consumption.
  • Consumers who 1) prepare food for consumption at home or 2) consume food prepared away from home.

U.S. law approaches each sector somewhat differently when addressing the safety of our food system.  The following list introduces those strategies.  The purpose of this page is to briefly introduce the strategies used in the United States to direct each sector in the food industry to follow practices that minimize the risk of a food safety problem.

The following list introduces the basic strategy used to direct each sector of the food industry.

  • Production sector – primarily producer education, but is trending towards regulation.  As described on another page, market incentives (that is, what processing firms and consumers are willing to pay for) also are motivating producers to review and revise their production practices.
  • Processing or manufacturing sector – extensively regulated, the regulations are primarily based on federal law even though state agencies often have an active role in enforcing the federal requirements.
  • Restaurants and similar entities preparing food for consumption away from home – extensively regulated; many of the regulations are based on state and local laws, but these laws are increasingly influenced by federal guidance.
  • Retail sector – similar to restaurants, the retail sector is regulated by state and local laws, but these are influenced by federal guidance.
  • Consumers are not regulated; instead, the primary strategy is education about human nutrition and food preparation, and accurate information about the product being sold (for example, see 1962 in the History of U.S. Food Law).

As U.S. food law continues to evolve, the basic regulatory strategy for each sector is being modified and refined. Consequently, the differences and similarities among the strategies directed at the several sectors of the industry also are changing. For example, indications are that the production sector is trending towards more regulation; perhaps not as much regulation as is directed to the processing sector, but certainly more regulation than the production sector has had in the past. Likewise, the relationship between the sectors also is changing as food law evolves, such as the implementation of farm-to-fork traceability. This interconnected requirement will substantially impact the differences and commonalities among the regulatory strategies directed at the various sectors of the food industry.

The next section addresses regulation of the processing sector; this is the focus of this course.  The other sectors of the food industry (production, retail, preparation away from home, and consumers) are briefly addressed in another section (on another page).


The next section overviews Regulating the Food Processing Sector.

Last Updated November 17, 2010

  NDSU Home  Phone Book  Campus Map  NDSU Search  College of Agriculture

E-Mail agecinf@ndsuext.nodak.edu
Published by Agribusiness and Applied Economics
Morrill Room 217, P.O. Box 5636
North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND 58105-5636
Phone: (701) 231-7441
Fax: (701) 231-7400