Food Safety



The United States food regulatory system has developed piecemeal over the last century, generating new rules and regulations in response to emerging food problems. As a result, an organizational structure allocates to various government agencies differing responsibilities for specific food safety concerns. A key to effective regulation within this complex and fragmented system is interagency cooperation and cooperation between these agencies and public and private stakeholders. Although this overview focuses on federal regulation of food safety, it is important to note that state regulatory agencies also play an important role in food safety regulation, especially in enforcement. Most notably, state regulatory agencies are primarily responsible for food sanitation and safe food handling by food retailers, foodservice providers, and food-vending operations. Read the full overview


Note: Recently added resources are posted at the top of the applicable sections.

Major Statutes

FDA Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011, Pub. L. 111-353, 124 Stat. 3885 (2011)
Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, 21 U.S.C. §§ 301-399
Federal Meat Inspection Act, 21 U.S.C. §§ 601-695
Poultry Products Inspection Act, 21 U.S.C. §§ 451-472
Egg Products Inspection Act, 21 U.S.C. §§ 1031-1056
Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, 7 U.S.C. §§ 135-136y


Poultry and Egg Products (AMS), 7 C.F.R. Part 94
Phytosanitary Treatments (APHIS), 7 C.F.R. Part 305
Mandatory Meat Inspection, 9 C.F.R. Parts 300-381
Voluntary Inspection/Certification, 9 C.F.R. Parts 350-362
Poultry Products Inspection Regulations, 9 C.F.R. Part 381
Food Safety and Inspection Service Administrative Provisions, 9 C.F.R. Parts 390-392
Regulatory Requirements FMIA/PPIA, 9 C.F.R. Parts 412-500
Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) Systems, 9 C.F.R. Part 417
Egg Products Inspection, 9 C.F.R. Parts 590-592
General Regulations for the Enforcement of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act,
21 C.F.R. Parts 1-99
Food for Human Consumption, 21 C.F.R. Parts 100-169
Food Labeling, 21 C.F.R. Parts 101
Food Additives, 21 C.F.R. Parts 170-199
Animal Drugs, Feeds, and Related Products, 21 C.F.R. Parts 500-599
Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), 40 C.F.R. Parts 150-189
National Marine Fisheries Service (Shellfish), 50 C.F.R. Parts 260-261
Federal Register Rules Open for Comment

Case Law

Case Law Index for Food Safety

Administrative Law Decisions

FDA Dockets Management

USDA Office of the Administrative Law Judges

USDA Office of the Judicial Officer

USDA National Appeals Division

Center published USDA Judicial Officer’s Decisions

Center Research Publications

Issue Brief: Organization for Competitive Markets Seeks Judicial Review of USDA’s GIPSA Rule Withdrawal (Lizano, E. Rumley)

Cattle Traceability: Potential Legal Implications (Rumley & Dowell)

State-Specific Direct Marketing Business Guides (National Ag Law Center & U. IL @Urbana)

3rd Party Food Safety Audits (Seideman and Rainey, 2012)

Food Safety and Specialty Crops (R. Rumley)

Legal and Business Guide for Specialty Crop Producers (National Ag Law Center & U. AR Division of Agriculture)

European Union Food Law Update – IV (Leibovitch, 2009)

International Legal Issues Concerning Animal Cloning and Nanotechnology — More of the Same or Are “The Times They Are A-Changin'”? (Roberts, 2008)

Private Standards in the Global Food Sector: Relationship to WTO Agreements – PowerPoint Presentation (Roberts, 2008)

Introduction to Food Law in the People’s Republic of China (Roberts, 2007)

From the Farm to the Factory: An Overview of the American and European Approaches to Regulation of the Beef Industry (Houston, 2006)

Is a Picture Worth More Than 1,000 Words? The Fourth Amendment and the FDA’s Authority to Take Photographs Under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (Fortin, 2006)

United States Food Law Update – II (Roberts, 2006)

European Union Food Law Update – II (Coutrelis, 2006)

United States Food Law Update (Roberts and Alsbrook, 2005)

European Union Food Law Update (Coutrelis, 2005)

Anatomy of the Government’s Role in the Recall of Unsafe Food Products (Roberts, 2004)

Legal Issues in Developing a National Plan for Animal Identification (Roberts and Pittman, 2004)

Congressional Research Service Reports

Reports– published and made available by CRS beginning in 2017

Subjects- published by CRS and made available by NALC until 2018:

Food Safety
Animal Agriculture

Agricultural Law Bibliography

Introduction   |   Keyword Search   |   Browse Categories

Legal publications on Food Safety:

Food and Drug Law
Fruits and Vegetables – Perishable Agricultural Commodities
Pesticides, Herbicides, Insecticides, Fungicides, Fertilizers
Torts, Insurance

Reference Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Food Irradiation
Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases (DFWED)
Food Safety Office
Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE)
A-Z Index for Foodborne Illness

Economic Research Service (ERS)

Policy Topics: Food Safety
Policy Topics: Food Safety & International Markets

Policy Topics: Food Choices & Health
Making Sense of Recent Cost-of-Foodborne-Illness Estimates (Hoffmann and Anekwe, 2013)
The Interplay of Regulation and Marketing Incentives in Providing Food Safety (Ollinger and Moore, 2009)
Traceability in the U.S. Food Supply, Economic Theory and Industry Studies (Golan et al., 2004)

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

National Agriculture Center
Agriculture/Food Safety
Regulating Pesticides
Food Quality Protection Act History
Food Irradiation
Food and Pesticides

Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Reportable Food Registry for Industry
Retail Food Protection: Food Code 2013
Small Business Guide to FDA
FDA Enforcement Reports
FDA Guidance Documents for Regulated Industry
FDA Warning Letters & Responses
Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
Center for Veterinary Medicine
Office of Regulatory Affairs
FDA Codex Activities

Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)

Mobile Slaughter Unit Compliance Guide
“At Least Equal To” Guidelines for State Meat and Poultry Cooperative Inspection Programs
Regulations, Directives, & Notices
Regulatory Compliance
Recalls and Public Health Alerts
Meat and Poultry Hazards and Controls Guide (2005)
Safety and Security Guidelines for the Transportation and Distribution of Meat, Poultry, and Egg Products (2005)
HAACP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point)
HAACP Guidance Documents
State Departments of Health and Agriculture
U.S. Codex Office

National Agricultural Library

Food and Nutrition Information Center
Food Safety Research Information Office

Congressional Resources

U.S. Senate and House Committees

Hearing of House Agriculture Committee: Reviewing Current Food Safety Systems (April 2, 2009)

Hearing of Senate Agriculture Committee: Examining the Effects of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) on U.S. Imports and Exports of Cattle and Beef (Feb. 3, 2005)

Hearing of House Government Reform Committee: Question: What Is More Scrambled Than an Egg? Answer: The Federal Food Inspection System (May 17, 2005)

House Energy and Commerce Report: Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 (July 29, 2009)

House Agriculture Committee Report: National Uniformity for Food Act of 2005 (Feb. 28, 2006)

Senate Committee Report: Homeland Security Food and Agriculture Act of 2005 (Dec. 15, 2005)

Government Accountability Office (GAO) Reports:

Food Safety: More Disclosure and Data Needed to Clarify Impact of Changes to Poultry and Hog Inspections (GAO-13-775)

Food Safety: FDA’s Food Advisory and Recall Process Needs Strengthening (GAO-12-589)

Food Irradiation: FDA Could Improve Its Documentation and Communication of Key Decisions on Food Irradiation Petitions (GAO-10-309R)

Food Safety: FDA Has Begun to Take Action to Address Weaknesses in Food Safety Research, But Gaps Remain (GAO-10-182R)

Food Safety: FDA Could Strengthen Oversight of Imported Food by Improving Enforcement and Seeking Additional Authorities (GAO-10-699T)

Food Safety: Agencies Need to Address Gaps in Enforcement and Collaboration to Enhance Safety of Imported Food (GAO-09-873)

Food Safety: FDA Should Strengthen Its Oversight of Food Ingredients Determined to Be Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) (GAO-10-246)

Veterinarian Workforce: Actions Are Needed to Ensure Sufficient Capacity for Protecting Public and Animal Health (GAO-09-178)

Food Safety: Selected Countries’ Systems Can Offer Insights into Ensuring Import Safety and Responding to Foodborne Illness (GAO 08-794)

Food Safety: Improvements Needed in FDA Oversight of Fresh Produce (GAO 08-1047)

Plum Island Animal Disease Center: DHS and USDA Are Successfully Coordinating Current Work, but Long-Term Plans Are Being Assessed (GAO-06-132)

Mad Cow Disease: An Evaluation of a Small Feed Testing Program FDA Implemented in 2003 With Recommendations for Making the Program a Better Oversight Tool (GAO-06-157R)

Overseeing the U.S. Food Supply: Steps Should be Taken to Reduce Overlapping Inspections and Related Activities (GAO-05-549T)

Oversight of Food Safety Activities: Federal Agencies Should Pursue Opportunities to Reduce Overlap and Better Leverage Resources (GAO-05-213)

Mad Cow Disease: FDA’s Management of the Feed Ban Has Improved, but Oversight Weaknesses Continue to Limit Program Effectiveness (GAO-05-101)

Food Safety: Experiences of Seven Countries in Consolidating Their Food Safety Systems (GAO-05-212)

Agriculture and Food: Posthearing Questions Related to Fragmentation and Overlap in the Federal Food Safety System (GAO-04-832R)

Food Safety: USDA & FDA Need to Better Ensure Prompt, Complete Recalls of Potentially Unsafe Food (GAO-05-51)

Other Federal Resources

The Federal Food Safety Working Group Progress Report (2011)

Antibiotic Use in Food Animals: FDA’s Current Activities (CRS In Focus Summary)

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) (APHIS Legislative and Public Affairs)

National Programs: Food Safety (Agricultural Research Service)

Global Beef Trade: Effects of Animal Health, Sanitary, Food Safety, and Other Measures on U.S. Beef Exports (U.S. International Trade Commission) Gateway to Government Food Safety Information

State Departments of Public Health (

Protecting Perishable Foods During Transport by Truck (AMS, 1995)

International Resources

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

Climate Change: Implications for Food Safety (2008)

Pan-European Conference on Food Safety and Quality

Strategy for a Food Chain Approach to Food Safety and Quality

FAO Nutrition Division

Veterinary Public Health and Feed and Food Safety (VPH)

FAO Animal Production and Health Division

National and EU Feed Legislation from FAOLEX Database

World Health Organization (WHO)

Health Topics: Foodborne Diseases
Avian Influenza; Food Safety Issues
Health Topics: Food Safety
Food Safety Department
Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy

Joint FAO/WHO Initiatives

Codex Alimentarius (Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme)
Understanding the Codex Alimentarius (2005)
Codex General Standard for Food Additives (GSFA) Online Database
FAO/WHO Model Food Law
Procedural Manual

World Trade Organization

Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures
SPS Agreement
Working Paper: Risk Assessment in the International Food Safety Policy Arena (Jackson and Jansen, 2009)

European Union

European Food Safety Authority
Activities of the European Union: Food Safety
Directorate General for Health and Consumers
Food and Feed Safety
Food Quality
Food Safety, Health, and Consumer Affairs (European Union in the U.S.)

Food Safety Agencies in Various Countries

Canada’s BSE in North America Site
Food Standards Australia/New Zealand
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Food Safety Authority of Ireland
United Kingdom Food Standards Agency

Non-Governmental Agencies (NGOs)

Food Safety & Defense (International Dairy Foods Association)
International Food Information Council
U.S. Foreign Agricultural Service Mission to the European Union: Food Safety


The Park Doctrine and Prosecution of Misdemeanor Violations under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (Or….Farmer Bill Goes to Jail (Gurwitz, 2016)

Responding to a Client’s Food Safety Issue (Handel, 2017)

The Food Modernization Act What Every Texas Lawyer Should Know (Walsh, 2017)

Food Safety Modernization Act: Inspections, Compliance Strategies and Opportunities for Comment (Practical Winery & Vineyard)

The Dating Game: How Confusing Food Date Labels Lead to Food Waste in America (Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic)

Summary of Raw Milk Statutes and Administrative Codes (National Conference of State Legislatures)

Stronger Partnerships for Safer Food: An Agenda for Strengthening State and Local Roles in the Nation’s Food Safety System (Food Safety Research Consortium, 2009)

Search Warrants: What Happens When the FDA Storm Arrives (Fleder, 2009)

Building a Modern Food Safety System: For FDA Regulated Foods (DeWaal and Plunkett, Center for Science in the Public Interest, 2007)

Regulating Functional Foods; Pre- and Post-Market Strategy (Ziker, 2002)

Food Irradiation: Why Aren’t We Using It? (Prejean, 2001)

Ensuring Safe Food: From Production to Consumption (National Academies Press)

Food Safety Research Information Office Database

Additional Resources

What’s Happening With Raw Milk- State by State Updates (

Food Safety Posts (Ag & Food Law Blog)

Food and Drug Law Institute

U.S. State and Local Food Law

Institute of Food Technologists

Food Safety & Inspection (American Meat Institute)

Food Safety Resource Center (Organic Consumers Association)

Food Safety Consortium (U. AR)

Food Safety Project: From Farm to Table (IA St. U. Ext.)

Grocery Manufacturers Association

Food Safety Risk Analysis Clearinghouse (Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, U. MD) (Institute for Food Laws and Regulations, MI St. U.)

MarketReady Fresh Produce Safety (NC State Extension)