University of Maryland Extension


USDA and FDA share federal jurisdiction over food quality, safety, sales, and marketing. All food in “interstate commerce” — food produced in one state and sold in another state — must meet requirements of USDA and/or FDA. Food sold retail or wholesale must come from “an approved source” as defined by government regulations. Food and the facility where it is produced, stored, and sold must be inspected unless it falls under an exemption. Some federal regulations include specific exemptions for certain foods and operators, although some states may not allow those exemptions.

The main role of USDA is to develop and manage products and markets for U.S. agriculture (food, fiber, fuel, forest, horticulture). USDA exercises authority over food processing through these programs:

Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS)

  • Specific programs for dairy, poultry, fruits and vegetables (Good Agricultural Practices or GAP), livestock and seed, organic standards

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)

  • How animals/plants are grown, where they come from, how illnesses are treated, how identified, tagged, or labeled, National Animal Identification System

Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)

  • Oversees domestic and imported meat, poultry, and eggs, plus foods where they are an ingredient
  • Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point Program (HACCP)
  • Regulates meat and poultry from farm to table

FDA is within the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. Its mission is to protect the public health by assuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, medical devices, food, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation. FDA oversees all domestic and imported food sold in interstate commerce, but not meat and poultry. The agency also has oversight for animal feed, veterinary drugs, and pesticides. It shares jurisdiction with USDA over eggs and egg products. FDA programs include: Acidified and Low Acid Canned Foods, Color Additives, Dietary Supplements, Food Ingredients and Packaging, Food Borne Illness, Food Labeling and Nutrition, Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP), Infant Formula, Pesticides and Chemical Contaminants, and Seafood.


United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS)

USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)

USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)

Food & Drug Administration (FDA)

Federal Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act

Federal Meat Inspection Act

Federal Poultry Inspection Act

Milk Safety and Pasteurized Milk Ordinance

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