Food safety

Which agency enforces food safety in a restaurant or a food service operation?

Different food safety agencies craft, enforce, and regulate food laws and policies to maintain food safety and keep ...

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Different food safety agencies craft, enforce, and regulate food laws and policies to maintain food safety and keep customers safe. Do you know which one applies to your business?

  • Food safety agencies establish and enforce food safety regulations and ensure that they are being followed through regular inspections.
  • Food safety agencies are often divided into federal, state, and local divisions, each with a certain level of jurisdiction.
  • Food safety agencies are responsible for protecting the public's interest and health as well as the nation's food security supply.

The importance of regulating the food industry is invaluable to maintaining order. Food safety regulations are built by a group of industry and law experts that make up a food safety agency. These groups are also responsible for enforcing food safety regulations in different businesses and connecting food businesses across the country and even internationally. Food business owners must learn which agency enforces food safety in a restaurant or a food service operation to understand the compliance regulations. 

Different countries have different food safety systems. Each food safety agency has its own specialization and governs over particular sectors in the food industry. Knowing which organization deals specifically with food safety can help every food business understand which legislations and compliance requirements apply to them. 
In this article, learn which food safety agency is responsible for regulating laws and policies for your food business.

food safety agency FDA


Which agency enforces food safety in a restaurant?

The responsibility of enforcing food safety in restaurants is shared by local and federal food safety agencies of a country. In the U.S. and as of 2021, at least three main government units regulate about $2.12 trillion worth of food in the food service and retail industries. 

In general, the main government agency responsible for food safety is the Food and Drug Administration. The agency holds the largest responsibility in the U.S. when it comes to establishing and enforcing food safety regulations in the food service industry. 

The FDA's authority is then supported by a whole network of state food safety agencies forming and implementing local laws with the ultimate goal of protecting the national food supply.


Who regulates food safety in the US?

As mentioned, the U.S. food safety system is made up of several different food safety agencies ranging from state to federal food safety jurisdictions in standards.

As the name suggests, the state agencies work on a smaller scale and state level. They are responsible for carrying out federal regulations and forming state laws and scientific standards to protect their consumers.

State-level agencies are also responsible for ensuring that legislation from higher agencies is implemented through their responsibility for inspection. They also carry out food safety training programs that include the dissemination of new or amended laws for food service and processing facilities.

On a federal level, the U.S. food safety system relies on three agencies, which include the following:

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The FDA oversees the primary authority among the food establishments in the US. This government agency is responsible for ensuring the safety of foods in the country to protect human health and the nation's food security.

The FDA is responsible for ensuring that domestic products and food imports from foreign food facilities and food suppliers (except cooked and raw meat, and poultry product food categories) that are traded in the U.S. are safe, wholesome, under appropriate food packaging, properly labeled, and nutritious. The agency oversees over 50,000 food establishments in the U.S. and is responsible for regulating the interstate movement of food items.

As a result of the passing of the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011, the FDA's authority and regulatory stance have been broadened. The law has given the FDA more authority to impose regulations on domestic and international food businesses and processing plants transacting with the US.

The FDA is also responsible for releasing the Food Code, which is a set of significantly studied set of guidelines of proper food handling practices for food safety compliance and some restaurant food safety tips. Some of the food processors under the jurisdiction of the FDA may include:

  • Food service businesses (e.g., restaurants, mobile food units, and retail food establishments)
  • Vending machine operations
  • Institutional food settings for services (e.g., cafeteria, schools, hospitals, and daycare centers)


United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Services (USDA FSIS). The FSIS is considered the USDA's public health agency and is responsible for regulating food safety practices, concern about food safety, and products related to the safety of meat, poultry, egg products, and products containing these raw materials. 

This regulatory authority ensures that the meat and poultry supply of the nation is protected from any deliberate contamination or unintentional presence of food safety hazards. This means that the food safety agency is also responsible for implementing the laws and regulations pertaining to the mentioned products. They are also responsible for any inspection of meat products and operations for meat slaughtering. 

Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC's mandate relates to building federal programs and food safety habits that will help prevent harmful diseases and food safety issues from foods in the nation as a result of unregulated food products. They also launch programs for disseminating education on food safety.

This food safety agency launches initiatives for epidemiological studies for sources of foodborne illness outbreaks and helps create systematic approaches to prevent the spread of human illness. 

The CDC is primarily involved in investigating cases such as foodborne disease surveillance or other food safety concerns and aid related food regulatory agencies in controlling them. 


What is the difference between FDA and USDA?

The FDA is the federal agency that regulates the majority of the U.S. food supply, which accounts for 80%, excluding products such as meat, poultry, and egg products. The latter list of food products is regulated by the USDA FSIS.

There are very fine lines in the variation among jurisdictions in food safety of the two food safety agencies. While the USDA primarily handles concerns and regulations on meats, products containing exotic and game meats such as venison and wild boar are under the jurisdiction of the FDA.


food law book


Who enforces food law?

With guidance from federal laws, state and local regulatory authorities enforce food laws and basic food safety principles in different food manufacturers. State and local health departments perform surveillance matters to ensure that food businesses comply with federal and state laws on proper practices and safety procedures for food safety.

They help prevent contamination of food and causing foodborne illnesses on a closer level to food businesses.

State regulatory agencies are often divided into separate departments, commonly the health and agricultural departments. These departments oversee different segments of the food industry. Where health departments oversee restaurant conditions and other food service establishments, agriculture departments enforce laws and have authority over supermarkets and agricultural commodities.

As stated by the guidelines released by FDA, the following are the key roles of state and local regulatory authorities:

  • Carry out federal inspection programs
  • Enforcement of food laws and safe procedures
  • Investigation of customer complaints and foodborne disease cases
  • Issuing licenses and permits
  • Review and approval of food safety systems

Every mentioned food safety agency aims to ensure one common thing - food safety compliance. This objective is to protect the public from foodborne problems and contribute to a stable economy and food supply through the service of safe foods. Compliance with food safety laws can be a huge undertaking for a food business, but it is a crucial aspect of operating a food business. 

At FoodDocs, we understand how important food safety is, and we know how hard it is to comply with the different food safety legislations. As such, we have come up with two digital expert solutions that can help you achieve and maintain optimal food safety compliance at all times. 

Let our digital HACCP template builder and digital food safety management system help you achieve compliance through the help of artificial intelligence and smart software. With our digital solutions, you can generate the most essential HACCP food safety plan in just 1 hour.


FoodDocs food safety system-1


Who provides regulation for food safety in California?

Food safety compliance and its implementation in the state of California is primarily regulated by the FDA, the California Department of Public Health, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), and local health departments.

These food safety agencies oversee food safety compliance when it comes to animal and plant products. In particular to the regulations applicable to meat, poultry, and milk products, the USDA FSIS, the CDFA Animal Health and Food Safety Services, and CDFA Milk and Dairy Food Safety Branch work together to prevent hazardous food from entering the market. 


Who regulates airline food safety?

Foods served in an airplane are heavily regulated by different public health agencies. In general, the International Flight Services Association developed a set of food safety regimens and common standards together with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other prominent stakeholders regarding airline catering. 

In addition, WHO published the Guide to Hygiene and Sanitation in Aviation which serves as a reference for proper food handling and safety in an aircraft. 

The food that gets onboard an aircraft is inspected and validated by the country of origin. Similarly and in the US, foods are regulated by prominent food safety agencies, including FDA and the USDA.

When it comes to the regulation of drinking water safety in airlines, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency comes to light.


Who regulates food safety in Canada?

Food safety is mainly regulated by Health Canada, which is the federal department of Canada concerned with the health of customers. The department's responsibility mainly revolves around improving the health of Canadians by ensuring high-quality health services.

Health Canada has the main food safety responsibilities for establishing food safety guidelines for Canadian food businesses. It sets food safety standards for food service, regulations, and food safety policies for food businesses and their products that get traded within Canada.

Some of the most significant regulations established by Health Canada include the following:

  • The Food and Drug Act
  • The Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act
  • The Canada Agricultural Products Act

The food safety agency is aided by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) in enforcing and implementing these food safety regulations. The CFIA coordinates with other food regulation authorities and helps ensure that food companies abide by food safety laws.

The CFIA is also responsible for implementing sanctions for food companies that fail to comply with strict food safety standards. The agency has the authority to issue a food recall notice and suspend permits.


Who regulates food safety in the UK?

The main food safety authority that regulates food safety in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland is the Food Standards Agency (FSA). This food safety agency protects the public from food safety issues and establishes laws and regulations for this cause.

This independent government department works with local authorities to implement food safety laws and protect its jurisdiction from economic losses as a result of foodborne diseases or disastrous outbreaks. On a lower level, local food safety agencies are responsible for enforcing the regulations and laws of the UK.

In addition to the FSA, food safety regulations in Scotland are managed by the agency Food Standards Scotland. This agency acts as a parallel agency that was recently established in 2015 and has the same objective as the FSA, only for the citizens of Scotland. 


keeping food safe


Managing food safety compliance with FoodDocs

Food safety efforts for compliance are long and can be an arduous task for food businesses. Nonetheless, it is one of the most important tasks for a food business to fulfill. Gray areas on which food safety agencies to comply with or report to may be very confusing, and regulations to follow may be too. 

To help secure compliance with the most stringent food safety regulations, what your food business needs is a robust food safety program, especially if food companies require a HACCP system. These tasks are some of the most essential things to tick off our checklist to ensure smooth food safety procedures.

At FoodDocs, we understand how hard it may be at times to deal with inspection practices and comply with the several different regulations enforced by food safety authorities. As such, we have come up with a digital solution that can significantly improve efficiency in complying with food safety regulations, laws, and policies. 

Our first digital solution can help you comply with the most stringent requirements for establishing a HACCP food safety system. With our built-in, customizable HACCP plan template builder, you can get a customizable, digital HACCP plan template with complete sections in just 1 hour.

By answering a few basic questions about your business operations, our system can generate the following digitally documented components for you:

  • Established prerequisite programs
  • Food safety hazard analysis
  • Established critical control points with appropriate critical limits
  • CCP monitoring forms and procedures
  • Corrective action plan
  • Verification procedures
  • Recordkeeping and documentation procedures

create a haccp plan in 1 hour


The HACCP plan template that our system will generate for you is highly customizable to further fit your operations. Become compliant with one of the most robust food safety systems through our digital solution in just 1 hour.

In addition to our digital HACCP plan template builder, we also offer a digital Food Safety Management System that can help you maintain compliance through a strict monitoring system.

Similar to the process of generating our digital HACCP plan template, all you need to do is answer a few questions that will describe your operations to our system. 

In just an average of 15 minutes, you can get the following benefits from our system:

  • Our digital FSMS can generate the most useful food safety monitoring forms that can help you maintain order and safety in your food business. Some of the most popular monitoring forms that we can provide you include the following:
    • Receiving chilled goods log
    • Fridge temperature log
    • Master Sanitation checklist
    • Cooking temperature log

Cooking temperature log FoodDocs


  • The monitoring logs that we generate for you are equipped with detailed instructions on how to perform the food safety task, such as measuring internal temperature and sanitation procedures and monitoring them with accuracy. With this feature, you can ensure that every food safety task is correctly performed at all times.

  • Our system features a smart notification system through our mobile app that alerts food handlers of food safety tasks that need to be done. This intuitive notification system can ensure that no food safety task is forgotten.

In addition to these features, our digital FSMS can also help managers improve compliance efficiency with these benefits:

  • Get a real-time dashboard that can give you an overview of your entire food safety operations. With this dashboard feature, you can save at least 20% of your time supervising your team. Immediately pinpoint areas that need more attention with our dashboard system.

  • Store, analyze, and organize data using the cloud storage that you can get when you use our digital FSMS. 

 With our digital solutions, you can easily achieve food safety compliance with regulations established by state or federal agencies. In addition to initial compliance, our solutions can help you sustain your status by consistently ensuring food safety with our digital monitoring logs and other smart features.

Start your compliance journey with our services now and use our free 14-day trial.  




Frequently Asked Questions

Need more information or clarification on this particular topic? Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about food safety agencies.


Which three governmental agencies are responsible for regulating Food Safety?

In the US, the three governmental agencies that regulate food safety are the following:

  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
  • US Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA FSIS)
  • Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)


Who regulates the food industry?

In the US, the Food and Drug Administration holds prime authority over handling the entire food chain and coordinates with other authorities, including the USDA.


Does FDA regulate restaurants?

Foods that are used in a restaurant or food service operation within the U.S. are regulated by the FDA. In general, the FDA has authority over restaurants and regulates food establishments, including: 

  • Food service businesses (e.g., restaurants and retail food stores)
  • Vending machine operations
  • Institutional food services (e.g., cafeteria, schools, hospitals, and daycare centers)


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