University of Maryland Extension

Local

Local health inspectors are the front lines of food safety. Local health departments are responsible for food safety regulation at the local level, including enforcement of federal and state regulations. Therefore it is very important for farmers and entrepreneurs to know a local health inspector’s interpretation of food safety regulations. Local health departments have many responsibilities in addition to food safety regulation. In rural communities, local health inspector may be a part-time job, however, the inspector may be very familiar with farms and direct food sales. In urban communities, the local health inspector may have more expertise in food safety for restaurants and grocery stores, and less familiarity with farms and direct food sales.

Each state is different, and in many states, each county or municipality may be different. Some states have “home rule” which means designated areas (e.g., towns or counties) may act independently, and their regulations may be more restrictive than state regulations. In some states, food safety inspectors work under the auspices of the department of agriculture. In other states, they work under the auspices of the department of public health. There may be different inspectors for different food products and production processes. A food safety inspector may be from the local board of health, or the county health department, or a regional district. As a result, at the local level, the food safety system has quite a bit of variation in authority, process, interpretation, and enforcement.

Resources

Maryland Counties
http://maryland.gov/pages/maps.aspx

Maryland Local Government
http://www.msa.md.gov/msa/mdmanual/01glance/html/locgov.html

Maryland Association of Counties
http://www.mdcounties.org/

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