All About the FDA's Food Code

The United States Food Code is a model created by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the purpose of regulating any entity that sells, manufactures, or provides food as part of their services. The Food Code originated from the Pure Drug and Food Act of 1906. This law was instituted, because food manufactures were producing and selling impure products for consumption. Because of this, the bottom line purpose of the FDA Food Code is to protect the citizens of this country from bodily harm that could arise from consuming contaminated food. An additional purpose of the FDA Food Code is to provide various entities a uniform standard, and a final authority regarding any questionable practices in the preparation or sales of food.

Some of the safeguards that have come from the FDA Food Code work to protect the public when purchasing food at grocery stores. The safeguards include listing product ingredients on the back of food labels, stamping expiration dates on packaging, nutritional values, and clearly labeling the type of products being purchased. A recent addition to food labeling now includes information about the food processing plant itself. This information is for the protection of those consumers who have food allergies. Knowing that a food product was processed in a plant that handles nuts, for example, could protect a consumer from grave illness, or death.

Restaurants, food vendors, and institutions that serve food must follow the FDA Food Code strictly in order to stay operational. The FDA Food Code prescribes rules that mandate the cleanliness of equipment, utensils, and food preparation areas. To this end, all of these entities must obtain food preparation licenses. These businesses cannot obtain a license unless they have passed inspections that are performed by local officials.

The FDA Food Code is updated currently every four years. The updates changed from every two years, to every four years in 2005. The FDA ensures that these updates include any new findings, and expands on any previous mandates. The FDA wants to ensure that the FDA Food Codes are kept current as new cuisines, food sources, methods of preparation, and food storage methods are introduced into our society.

There are many resources on the Internet that further expands upon the history of the FDA Food Code, and give examples of the FDA Food Code in action. Here are some websites with FDA Food Code information and health and safety information. Most of these are indexed and listed courtesy of Food Safety Magazine.com:

  • FDA Food Code: An introduction to the FDA food code and links to the 2009, 2005, 2001, 1999 and 1997 food codes.
  • Real Progress in Food Code Adoptions: A comprehensive report showing adoptions of the food code by state, tribal and other territories.
  • Food Code: An article all about the creation and purpose of the FDA food code.

Other Food Safety Resources:

  • Food Safety- This is a family friendly website geared towards educating the average home cook about food safety.
  • National Agricultural Library- This is the Department of Agriculture's website that focuses on nutrition, and features the updated Food Pyramid.
  • Partnership for Food Safety Education- This website focuses on what people can do in their everyday lives to prevent food-borne illness, including the basics such as hand washing, and proper kitchen sanitation.
  • Dietary Managers Association- The website for this non-profit group, whose mission is to ensure that institutions are serving their clients safely prepared foods.
  • Meat Inspection Act- This site takes a look back at the 100 years since the enactment of the Federal Meat Inspection Act.
  • National Restaurant Association- This is the official website for the organization. This group has a Board of Directors in Washington D.C., and provides information and advocacy for restaurant owners.
  • Association of Food and Drug Officials- This is an educational website for this organization. Their mission is fostering uniform adherence to food, drug, and safety laws.
  • International Food Safety Council- This is a training and scholarship website for prospective chefs, and food service workers.
  • Food Safety Alert- This website list any food recalls, news, and articles regarding our food supply.
  • USDA Homeland Security- Our modern farmers need to know how to protect their crops from biological, and other terrorist threats.
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