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

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


Animal Drugs, Feeds, and Related Products Regulations, 21 C.F.R. Parts 500-599
Egg Products Inspection Regulations, 9 C.F.R. Parts 590-592
Pesticide Programs Regulations, 40 C.F.R. Parts 150-189
Federal Register Rules Open for Comment
Food for Human Consumption Regulations, 21 C.F.R. Parts 100-169
Food Additives Regulations, 21 C.F.R. Parts 170-180
Food Substances Regulations , 21 C.F.R. Parts 181-190
Food Labeling Regulations, 21 C.F.R. Part 101
Food Safety and Inspection Service Administrative Provisions, 9 C.F.R. Parts 390-392
General Regulations for the Enforcement of the FDCA, 21 C.F.R. Parts 1-99
Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) Systems Regulations, 9 C.F.R. Part 417
Current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP), Hazard Analysis, and Risk-based Preventive Controls for Human Food (HARPC) Regulations, 21 C.F.R. Part 117
Mandatory Meat and Poultry Products Inspection Regulations, 9 C.F.R. Parts 300-381
Processed Fishery Products Regulations , 7 C.F.R. Part 305
Poultry and Egg Products (AMS) Regulations, 7 C.F.R. Part 94
Regulatory Requirements Under FMIA/PPIA/EPIA, 9 C.F.R. Parts 412-500
Voluntary Inspection/Certification, 9 C.F.R. Parts 350-362

Case Law

Case Law Index for Food Safety

Administrative Law Decisions

FDA Dockets Management
USDA National Appeals Division
USDA Office of the Administrative Law Judges
USDA Office of the Judicial Officer

Center Research Publications

Produce Safety Rule Highlights (Copper, 2020)
Meat Processing Laws in the United States (E. Rumley & Wilkerson, 2020)
Issue Brief: Organization for Competitive Markets Seeks Judicial Review of USDA’s GIPSA Rule Withdrawal (Lizano & E. Rumley, 2018)
Recent Legal Developments with the Food Safety Modernization Act (Schweichler, 2018)
Cottage Food Laws: Adequately Addressing Food Safety and Economic Opportunity? (Adams & Hall, 2018)
“Cottage Food” Laws (Hall)
FSMA Animal Food Rule – Current Good Manufacturing Practice, Hazard Analysis, and Risk-Based Preventive Control (Dillard, 2016)
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 of Specialty Crop Operations (Seideman & 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, 2011)
European Union Food Law Update – IV (Leibovitch, 2008)
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 & 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 & 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:

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)

Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases (DFWED)
Food Safety Office
Food Safety Information for Specific Groups

Department of Justice (DOJ)

Keeping our Food Safe

USDA Economic Research Service (ERS)

Policy Topics: Food Safety
Policy Topics: Food Choices & Health

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Food Quality Protection Act
Food and Pesticides

Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN)
FDA Codex Activities
FDA Office of Criminal Investigations
FDA Warning Letters
FSMA Final Rule for Preventive Controls for Human Food
Reportable Food Registry for Industry
Retail Food Protection: Food Code 2013
Retail Food Risk Factor Studies
State Retail and Food Service Codes and Regulations by State

Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)

Food Safety Guidelines Database
Guidelines for the Transportation and Distribution of Meat, Poultry, and Processed Egg Products
Food Safety Agencies & Partners
Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) Guide
“At Least Equal To” Guidelines for State Meat and Poultry Cooperative Inspection Programs
Meat and Poultry Hazards and Controls Guide
Mobile Slaughter Unit Compliance Guide
Recalls and Public Health Alerts
Food Safety Policy
Regulatory Enforcement
U.S. Codex Office

National Agricultural Library (NAL)

Educational Materials
A-Z Index for Foodborne Illness

Congressional Resources

U.S. Senate and House Committees

Hearing of Senate Agriculture Committee: Pesticide Registration Under FIFRA: Providing Stakeholders with Certainty Through the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act (May 11, 2017)
Hearing of House Agriculture Committee: Reviewing Pesticide Registration Act of 2017 (March 20, 2017)
Hearing of House Agriculture Committee: Reviewing Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015 (July 16, 2015)
Hearing of Senate Agriculture Committee: EPIA Amendments of 2012: Impact on Egg Producers (August 1, 2012)
Hearing of House Agriculture Committee: Reviewing Current Issues in Food Safety (July 16, 2009)
Hearing of House Agriculture Committee: Reviewing Federal Food Safety Systems at the USDA (May 14, 2009)
Hearing of House Agriculture Committee: Reviewing Food Safety Standards for Horticulture and Organic Agriculture (April 23, 2009)
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:

CDC Could Further Strengthen Its Efforts to Identify and Respond to Foodborne Illnesses (GAO-21-23)
USDA and FDA Could Take Additional Steps to Reduce Consumer Confusion (GAO-19-407)
USDA Should Take Further Action to Reduce Pathogens in Meat and Poultry Products (GAO-18-272)
Imported Seafood Safety: FDA and USDA Could Strengthen Efforts to Prevent Unsafe Drug Residues (GAO-17-443)
Food Safety: A National Strategy Is Needed to Address Fragmentation in Federal Oversight (GAO-17-74)
Imported Food Safety: FDA’s Targeting Tool Had Enhanced Screening, but Further improvements Are Possible (GAO-16-399)
Food Safety: Additional Actions Needed to Help FDA’s Foreign Offices Ensure Safety of Imported Foods (GAO-15-183)
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

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

International Resources

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

Food Safety and Quality
Food Safety in the Time of Covid
Climate Change: Unpacking the Burden on Food Safety (2020)
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

World Health Organization (WHO)

Health Topics: Foodborne Diseases
Food Safety Department

Joint FAO/WHO Initiatives

Codex Alimentarius (Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme)
FAO/WHO Model Food Law

World Trade Organization (WTO)

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

European Union

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control
European Food Safety Authority
Activities of the European Union: Food Safety
Directorate General for Health and Consumers
Food and Feed Safety
Biological Safety
Food Quality

Food Safety Agencies in Various Countries

Food Standards Australia/New Zealand
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Food Safety Authority of Ireland
United Kingdom Food Standards Agency

Non-Governmental Agencies (NGOs)

International Food Information Council
U.S. Foreign Agricultural Service Mission to the European Union: Food Safety


Pasture to Package: Ensuring Food Safety Compliance and Animal Welfare Integrity in Grass-fed Beef Production (Manning, 2017)
Food and Fertile Ground: Improving Chinese Food Safety through Environmental Regulation (Domann, 2017)
Much Ado About Nothing: Does the Death of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Affect Global Food Safety? (Scrufari, 2017)
The Paradox of Clean Food and the Food Safety Modernization Act: Understanding the FDA’s Preventive Controls for Human Food Rule (Card, 2016)
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)
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)
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 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
Institute of Food Technologists
Food Safety Resource Center (Organic Consumers Association)
Food Safety (IA St. U. Ext.)
Consumer Brands Association
Food Safety Risk Analysis Clearinghouse (Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, U. MD)