Control and Oversight

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ensures that injury, such as disease or illness, will not result from substances in food by closely monitoring the food supply. This differs from monitoring for food hazards (the responsibility of the food handler), where harm is possible under normal conditions. Potential food hazards could include improper storage conditions and serving food at unsafe temperatures. The food handler is directly involved in controlling these potential hazards during receiving, storage, preparation, cooking, and service.

The primary agencies that monitor the safety of the U.S. food supply are the FDA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. When monitoring the food supply, the FDA focuses first on microbial food-borne illness, followed by natural toxins in food, and residues in food, including environmental contaminants, pesticides, and animal drugs. Nutritional composition and intentional food additives are monitored more closely as artificial food products enter the market. The FDA Food Code, which is published every two years, provides guidance for restaurants, grocery stores, and institutions such as nursing homes on how to prevent food-borne illness. Managers and supervisors of these institutions are now required to be certified bacteria: single-celled organisms without nuclei, some of which are infectious pathogen: organism that causes disease toxins: poison food additive: substance added to foods to improve nutrition, taste, appearance, or shelf-life food poisoning: illness caused by consumption of spoiled food, usually containing bacteria microorganisms: bacteria and protists; single-celled organisms nausea: unpleasant sensation in the gut that precedes vomiting paralysis: inability to move fatigue: tiredness hepatitis: liver inflammation hygiene: cleanliness in food safety and sanitation. Local, state, and federal regulators use the Food Code as a model to develop their own food safety rules.

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