Food Safety


Latest Resource for Food Safety

Issue Brief: Organic Food Labeling

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) administers the National Organics Program (NOP), which dictates the production and handling standards for food that is marketed as organic. The NOP also establishes a national standard regarding the use of the term “organic” in food labeling. This issue brief outlines the four permissible uses of the term as they relate to the percent of organic ingredients included in the food product.

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From the Public Health Law Blog

A Confusing Path Forward for Federal Regulation of Cannabidiol Products

Dietary supplements and foods containing cannabidiol (CBD) are being sold over-the-counter throughout the United States. The over-the-counter sale of dietary supplements and foods containing CBD has created a lot of confusion regarding the legality of this practice because of CBD’s association with marijuana and recent changes in the 2018 Farm Bill.

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From the Legal Assistance Library

Regulations on the use of Human Waste as a Fertilizer

A requester recently contacted the Network to ask how states regulate the use of human waste as a fertilizer. Both federal and state law allow for the use of human waste as an agricultural fertilizer. The land application of biosolids, sewage sludge, and/or domestic septage provides considerable nutrient benefits for the soil, but also presents a range of health and environmental challenges.

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Primary Legal Issues

Public health lawyers can help state and local officials working on food-borne illness prevention and response in many ways, including:

  • Determining and explaining the limits of the power of local officials to implement regulations aimed at preventing food-borne illness outbreaks in their jurisdictions (federal regulations can preempt local ordinances).
  • Assisting local health officials to translate sound science into sound policy.
  • Serving as the liaison between local health officials and the regulatory agencies charged with reducing the spread of microbes among animals and preventing the contamination of foods.
  • Helping state and local public health agencies understand the range of model regulations that have been adopted nationwide to regulate food preparation. (State and local public health agencies generally enjoy broad power to regulate food preparation, such as in restaurants and convenience stores. Model codes for such regulation have been adopted in most states, though there are a variety of models in place across the country. As a result, states may benefit from sharing information about the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of certain model provisions and may work together to recommend changes to the model provisions. Public health lawyers can assist in this process.)

Technical Assistance Capacity

The Network for Public Health Law provides technical assistance to health officials interested in gaining a better understanding of federal, state and local food safety regulations so that they can better develop public health programs that comply with existing laws.

For legal technical assistance and support with food safety:

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The Network for Public Health Law provides information and technical assistance on issues related to public health. The legal information and assistance provided does not constitute legal advice or legal representation. For legal advice, please consult specific legal counsel. For more information on the type of legal assistance the Network can provide, please see frequently asked questions.