4: Regulatory Agencies

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There are many regulatory agencies that are responsible for food safety in this country. For most of you, your business is most likely considered a food establishment. A food establishment is a restaurant, hotel, caterer, food service in a hospital or nursing home, a day care center that serves food, a mobile food establishment, or a temporary food establishment. In most states, regulations for food establishments are written at the state level. Most states have adopted some or all of the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) Food Code. For example, Massachusetts has adopted about 97% of the FDA’s 1999 Food Code and has additional supplemental regulations to those adopted from the FDA. It is up to the 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts to enforce this food code. Other states and local regulatory authorities may include all the latest regulations from the FDA. These regulatory authorities are involved with food establishment inspections, illness complaint investigations, and plan review just to mention a few.

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) is responsible at the national level for developing and applying disease prevention and control, and for developing environmental health, health promotion, and health education policies and activities designed to improve the health of people in the United States. As far as food safety is concerned, the CDC is involved with numerous activities which include providing educational materials regarding food safety, investigating outbreaks of foodborne illness, and publishing weekly reports on various illnesses including those caused by food. The US Public Health Service (PHS) is responsible for “protecting, promoting and advancing the health and safety of the nation”.

Finally, the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) has many agencies, one of which is the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), responsible for ensuring that the nation’s commercial supply of meat, poultry and egg products is safe, wholesome, and correctly labeled and packaged.

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