Don’t play with your food. That’s a rule that the FDA lives by.
The Food and Drug Administration regulates foods, drugs, and biological products. They are the official government agency in the United States for food regulations, so many people think they regulate absolutely everything.
But that’s not entirely accurate. Though the FDA examines nearly every food and drug, they don’t treat food and drugs alike. Many companies advertise that they are “FDA approved,” but that may not be true.
How can you know when your food is FDA compliant? Here is a quick guide to help you find out.
Being FDA Compliant
The FDA regulates all foods that are sold through interstate commerce. The Department of Agriculture regulates meat, poultry, and egg products. Any meat or poultry product that is “FDA approved” wasn’t even inspected by the FDA, so that term is inaccurate.
FDA food regulations involve many different things. They audit food producers to make sure they are testing products for dangerous substances. They track products across the country, and they investigate outbreaks of bacteria like E. coli.
FDA does not conduct premarket approval of foods. Premarket approval is a review process that investigates scientific literature and uses experiments on products. But premarket approval is for drugs and medical products, not food.
The FDA does not regulate foods that fall under the Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP). Food imports receive regulations from their home countries, though the FDA can take a look and track them.
The FDA does approve food and color additives. Companies supply the FDA with information showing that their additives are safe. The FDA then reviews and conducts tests to determine if they are in fact safe.
The FDA works with the Federal Trade Commission to control advertising. The FTC has the final say over food advertising, but the FDA can advise them on certain practices.
The FDA does not approve the food label. They require nutrition information to appear on food packaging. But manufacturers must provide the labels themselves.
Misuse of the FDA logo can violate federal law. Companies should not use the FDA logo when they are advertising their products.
Labeling receives broad protections under the First Amendment. A manufacturer can include structure-function claims, describing how an ingredient affects the body. As long as they are not dishonest, they can use whatever slogans they want.
It is not against the law to say a food is “FDA approved.” It is not inaccurate, since the FDA examines where the food came from and determined it was safe. But there is no “approval” of food products under FDA guidelines.
Is Your Food Safe?
Food fuels our bodies. But food can also harm us. The FDA is responsible for regulating foods, but they are not omnipotent.
The FDA does not regulate meat products or products from outside the country. They examine manufacturers and see that they are running tests on their food. You can be sure that nearly all food products in your grocery store are FDA compliant.
Labeling has broad protections, so saying a food product is “FDA approved” is not against the law. But there is no formal approval process for any food product.
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