Food safety has come a long way in the last hundred years, as health departments and the general public have realized more and more how food contributes to the overall health of everyone.
This means that now there are standards that restaurants and other food-handling facilities must measure up to. How are these regulations made?
In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is charged with the task of making them. The rules are updated every few years, when new food information calls for changes in regulations. For instance, the lowly tomato used to be a food no one worried much about. Now it is listed as a potentially hazardous food, and restaurants have much stricter regulations about how to use them.
When these regulations – known as the Food Model Code – are put in document form, the FDA sends them to all 50 states. The Food Model Code is considered a list of intelligent guidelines. Each state can choose what to do with this code. Some states adopt the Code as they receive it; some might choose to not adopt it at all; others may rewrite it completely. As of 2009, however, all states in the U.S. have adopted some form of the FDA Food Model Code.
Some states, after determining their version of the food code, give cities or counties the job of seeing that the rules are followed. And those city and county health departments may also make changes to the code if they think it necessary.
On a larger scale, the FDA itself inspects and regulates large-scale production facilities, such as General Mills, Kraft, Nestle, etc. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspects all meat and poultry plants and facilities, making sure that they are following the rules of food safety.