University of Maryland Extension


Regulation of food distribution — moving food from wherever it is produced or stored to the place where it will be sold — begins with the licensing of food processing facilities. A USDA or FDA licensed facility may distribute food anywhere in the United States. Distributing food between states is called "interstate commerce." State licensed facilities may distribute food only within that state (however, this may change based on the 2007 Farm Bill). Distributing food within a state is called "intrastate commerce." In most cases, a facility licensed by a local inspector may distribute food only via retail sales intrastate. In other words, the licensee may not wholesale, and the product may not enter interstate commerce. A farm-direct sale is a retail sale. Note, in seeking information on regulation of interstate commerce, you will find the USDA uses the phrase "food distribution" and "Food Distribution Program" primarily to refer to nutrition assistance programs, not food logistics.

Before you choose or develop your product or facility, contact the authorities that have jurisdiction over your product, process, and distribution. Learn the limitations of the facility license on food distribution. Get this information in writing. Do not proceed on the basis of a conversation with one person or on the basis of information on a website. Confirm your plans with appropriate state and/or federal agencies.


FDA Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP)

FDA - Guidance for Industry: Sanitary Food Transportation

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