Food Poisoning

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Food LawsFood Laws

Many of the food safety laws that protect consumers are product liability laws. The specific product liability laws that apply to you and your family depend on where you live. Most product liability laws are state laws. In some cases, a relevant law may be a municipal statute. The amount of protection and the extent to which you can seek to be compensated for your injury vary from state to state, but nearly all states provide consumers with legal means of attempting to obtain compensation for injuries as a result of serious food illness.

State Food Safety Laws

Food safety is regulated and managed at the state level. 

Federal Food Law

In addition to product liability law, there is another major set of laws that protect consumers from unsafe food. The federal government has set down specific guidelines for the firms that grow, process, transport, and sell food to the public. Firms and people who do not follow these guidelines can be found guilty of violating federal law and can be subject to punishment.

Among the most important federal statutes are:

Food Handling Laws

In order to help make sure that these guidelines are followed by the people who grow, make, and sell food, the federal government has set up agencies dedicated to inspecting the U.S. food supply and helping consumers prevent food borne illness.

Among these agencies are:

The regulatory agencies are required to follow certain guidelines as laid out by the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), and the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA).

With these guidelines and agencies in place, the federal government has created a system to require specific standards for specific products and a way to monitor food producers. For example, under this system teams of inspectors go to meatpacking plants and take samples of meat on factory lines to be tested in the laboratory. Plants that are in violation of regulations can be required to stop production or shut down for a set number of days. In addition to the presence of federal inspectors in processing plants, the federal food safety system requires many food processors and handlers to establish a system of self-inspection.

A relatively new program under the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition is called the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP). The HACCP was created to analyze hazards to food safety, so that it can find the critical points at which those hazards occur. Once it is determined where the hazards (or contamination risks) are most frequent, the HACCP sets up measures to reduce and eliminate the hazards. Finally, HACCP representatives check back frequently to make sure that the measures are being used successfully.