Best if printed in landscape.
of US Government Response
current strategy of the US response to food safety centers on several
food that is known to pose a risk of causing illness will be removed
from the supply chain,
consumers are responsible for deciding what foods they will consume
(based on the assumption that unsafe foods have been removed from the
consumers must be provided accurate information about the food product
so they can make informed decisions, and
consumers should have educational opportunities to learn how to make
good decisions about their food consumption.
these key concepts has been built upon 3 steps - prohibiting adulterated
foods, prohibiting misbranded foods, and offering education. The corollary
to the prohibitions is to mandate specific practices that help assure
food is unadulterated and not misbranded. Thus the majority of the discussion
about food safety addresses
- what actions are
prohibited and what steps are required to assure food is unadulterated,
- what actions are
prohibited and what steps are required to assure food is not misbranded,
- providing education
about making sound food decisions.
of each include
- not adding substances
that are likely to cause illness,
- following sanitary
procedures during food manufacturing,
- not using containers
that deceive the consumer as to the quantity of the food,
- providing nutritional
information about the food product, and
- providing information
for consumers to learn about safe at-home food preparation practices.
U.S. federal laws dealing with food safety concerns initially addressed the processing sector of the food industry, but other sectors (e.g., final preparation, retail sale, commodity production) have subsequently been subject of government overview. For example, retail sales and final food preparation are subject to state rules (with considerable input from federal agencies), whereas rules for addressing safety concerns in much of the production sector are jsut being devised at this time.
Function of Food Laws
- Protect the public
health from the adverse consequences of unsafe foods.
- "Rose Acre
[an egg producer] observes that salmonella is not dangerous to the
animals; it is contagious among animals but does not injure them.
According to Rose Acre, only diseases dangerous to animals fall within
the jurisdiction of the Secretary of Agriculture. When the disease
is dangerous exclusively to humans, Rose Acre insists, the Food and
Drug Administration is the appropriate regulator. The Secretary of
Agriculture has neither statutory mandate nor expertise in dealing
with human diseases, it submits...
district judge rejected Rose Acre's contention, and properly so...
Control of illness among farm animals is for the welfare of humans:
to protect our health from diseases animals carry, and to protect
our wallets from the costs of sacrificing additional animals should
the infection spread. Salmonella spreads from animals to people; it
spreads among animals, potentially increasing the financial cost to
farmers; and fear of salmonella depresses the demand for dairy and
poultry products, again injuring agriculture. Nothing in the text
of secs. 111, 114, 114a, or 120 confines the Secretary to addressing
diseases fatal to animals."
Acre Farms, Inc., v. Madigan, U.S. Court of Appeals for the
Seventh Circuit, Nos. 91-2358 and 91-2514. February 10, 1992
- Convey information
to the consumers, such as package labeling requirements (labeling strives
to provide consumers with information so they can make an informed decision)
and education programs.
- Protect against
fraud; e.g., assure that the package contains what the label states.
- Assure fair trade
practices to prevent sellers from misrepresenting what they are selling
and from misleading consumers about the quality of the product.
- Protect the environment;
recognizing that food production systems impact air and water qualities.
this site as mandatory reading!
Description Of The U.S. Food Safety System -- a web site prepared
by Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the USDA.
This document, prepared in early 2000, provides an overview of US food
safety system; also look at the information/links contained in Annex
1 and Annex 2.
Congressional acts prohibit adulterated and misbranded foods; these include
the Food, Drug and Comestic Act (21
U.S.C. §331), the Meat Inspection Act (21
U.S.C. §610; 9
CFR 301.2), and the Poultry Product Inspection Act (
21 U.S.C. §458;
CFR 381.1), and the Egg Product Inspection Act (21
U.S.C. §1037; 9
addresses issues such as additives and sanitation, whereas misbranding
addresses issues such as labeling and advertising.
use safe inputs; assure the ingredients (e.g., ag commodity is not
spoiled or diseased); assure the additive is not harmful or poisonous,
and that the commodity is not harmful (this last point becomes an
issue when genetically-modified commodite (biotechnology) are used
in food products);
e.g., 9 CFR 301.2 defines adulterated
what is being added -- color additives, food additives, dietary
supplements (vitamins and minerals)
not being contaminated during processing -- sanitation; GMP; HACCP
anticipating malicious attack on food supply/food system
revealing infomation to consumer
accruately identified/standards for product
no misleading claims/advertising/labels
9 CFR 301.2 defines misbranded
of Required Actions (corollaries to the prohibited acts)
with product standards (formulation)
and HACCP (adopt good practices)
background and implementation
"command and control," but instead "performance standards"
approval of a HACCP plan
the implementation/execution of a HACCP plan
- Label properly
- Maintain records
consumers some understanding so they can decide what they want to consume;
this education complements laws addressing misbranding and labeling
that are intended to assure consumers have accurate information on which
to make their decisions.
Alternative Overview of U.S. Response
U.S. food law, whether it was intentional or a consequence of history, has basically divided the food industry into four sectors:
- Production agriculture
- Processing sector
- Retail sector that can be further divided into food that will be consumed at home (e.g., grocery stores) and food that is consumed away from home (e.g., restaurants), and
Initially, U.S. food law emphasized the regulation of the processing sector wherein both federal and state governments have taken a role. The federal agencies include the Food Safety and Inspection Service of USDA (for meat and poultry products) and the Food and Drug Administration of the Department of Health and Human Services (for nearly all other foods). At the state level, a department of health, a department of agriculture, or a similar agency is often given the responsibility of overseeing the food processing sector. Of course, only food that fits the broad definition of “being in interstate commerce” is within the jurisdiction of the federal agencies.
Congress has not authorized the federal agencies to address the retail sector of the food industry; those businesses are regulated by state government. However, that has not prevented the FDA from developing suggested standards for the retail food sector, which nearly all states have adopted as statutory or regulatory law. These suggestions are referred to as the Food Code which is updated by the FDA as that agency deems necessary.
The consumer sector is not regulated and there appears to be no interest in having society regulate the actions of individuals. However, the law (both federal and state law) emphasizes removing unsafe food from the food chain, educating consumers, and providing them information about food products (i.e., labeling) so consumers can decide what they want to eat. This is especially true for food sold for home consumption. Food consumed away from home, at this time, is not subject to the same level of “labeling.”
Historically, the production sector has not been heavily regulated. Instead, the strategy of federal and state governments has focused on educating producers to reduce the risk of food being rendered unsafe as a consequence of agricultural production practices. This may be changing. Federal and state laws are beginning to address production practices, but perhaps more important, the food processing and retail sectors are requiring agricultural producers to verify that the producers’ practices will not adversely impact the safety of the final food product. At this time, good agricultural practices (GAP) may be mandated more by the marketplace (especially the global marketplace), than by law.
It is perhaps a coincident, rather than by design, that U.S. law has divided the food industry into four sectors and that each sector is being directed by a unique set of legal and market forces to address food safety concerns. Collectively, however, these strategies strive to minimize the risk of unsafe food “from the farm to the table.”
February 6, 2010