Food Safety Agencies and Authorities: A Primer Page: 3 of 6
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the industry to improve production practices. According to GAO, unannounced
compliance inspections of individual establishments by FDA officials now occur roughly
once every 10 years. FDA relies on notifications from within the industry, or from other
federal or state inspection personnel, as well as other sources, to alert it to situations
calling for increased inspection.
FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) is responsible for (1)
conducting and supporting food safety research, (2) developing and overseeing
enforcement of food safety and quality regulations, (3) coordinating and evaluating FDA's
food surveillance and compliance programs, (4) coordinating and evaluating cooperating
states' food safety activities, and (5) developing and disseminating food safety and
regulatory information to consumers and industry. CFSAN's staff numbers 790,
according to FDA.
FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine is responsible for ensuring that all animal
drugs, feeds (including pet foods), and veterinary devices are safe for animals, are
properly labeled, and produce no human health hazards when used in food-producing
animals. The Center employs 247 people at its headquarters, and has a field inspection
staff of 91.
FDA's Relationship to State Inspection Programs. The FDA cooperates with
about 400 state agencies across the nation that carry out a wide range of food safety
regulatory activities. FDA holds the statutory authority for ensuring the sanitary operation
of 560,000 food service establishments; 150,000 retail food stores; 1 million food vending
locations; 126,000 Grade A dairy farms; 770 milk pasteurization plants; 750 shellfish
processors; 1,100 shellfish shippers; and 850 shellfish-growing areas. However, the state
agencies are primarily responsible for their actual inspection. FDA works with the states
to set the safety standards for these establishments and commodities and evaluates the
states' performance in upholding such standards as well as any federal standards that may
FDA also contracts with states to use their food safety agency personnel to carry out
certain field inspections in support of FDA's statutory responsibilities. For example,
FDA contracts with states to monitor medicated animal feeds and to investigate incidents
of pesticide or drug residues in foods and toxins in shellfish.
Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA). FSIS regulates the safety,
wholesomeness, and proper labeling of most domestic and imported meat and poultry sold
for human consumption. Under the Federal Meat Inspection Act of 1906, as amended [21
U.S.C. 601 et seq.], FSIS inspects all cattle, sheep, swine, goats, and equines during
slaughtering and processing. Under the Poultry Products Inspection Act of 1957, as
amended [21 U.S.C. 451 et seq.], FSIS is required to inspect "any domesticated bird"
being processed for human consumption; however, USDA regulations implementing this
law limit the definition of domesticated birds to chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, and
guineas. FSIS also offers a voluntary fee-for-service inspection program for emu,
ostriches and rheas (ratites). As mentioned above, FDA has jurisdiction over exotic and
s U.S. General Accounting Office. Food Safety: Risk-Based Inspections and Microbial
Monitoring Needed for Meat and Poultry. GAO/RCED-94-110. May 19, 1994.
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Food Safety Agencies and Authorities: A Primer, report, February 5, 1998; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc817487/m1/3/: accessed February 20, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.