Jurisdiction

The objective of this section is to provide general information pertaining to jurisdiction related to meat labeling and inspection. This section cannot substitute for the careful review of federal and state requirements and rules regarding consumer labeling.

This section has excerpts and references information from the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) Web site and from "A Guide to Federal Food Labeling Requirements for Meat and Poultry Products".1

Nationwide

From its inception in 1862, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been the federal department responsible for regulations for meat products. In 1906, the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) was passed and the USDA, by statute, has jurisdiction over meat products from livestock. Livestock includes cattle, sheep, swine, goat, horse, mule, or other equine. The USDA is charged with assuring that meat products in interstate or foreign commerce or that substantially affect such commerce, are wholesome, not adulterated, and properly marked, labeled and packaged.

USDA Logo

In 1906, the USDAs Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) had initial enforcement responsibility for FMIA. Enforcement responsibility for FMIA changed in 1953 to the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), and in 1977 changed to the Food Safety and Quality Service (FSQS). In 1981, FSQS was reorganized and renamed the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). The FSIS was created as the public health regulatory agency to ensure the safety and security of the U.S. meat and poultry products supply.

Today, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is responsibility for the development and application of labeling requirements applicable to meat products. FSIS derives the authority to govern labeling from the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA). Regulations and policies establish requirements for the content and design of labeling to ensure that labeling is truthful, accurate, and not misleading in order to prevent products from being misbranded.

FSIS Logo

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves labels for all other food products. FDA and FSIS has concurrent jurisdiction with setting standards of identity for food products. FSIS works closely with the FDA to insure the standards for meat and poultry food products are consistent with standards established under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA). The FDA has authority to approve the safety of food ingredients to be used with meat products and FMIA permits only FDA-sanctioned food ingredients to be used in the production of meat products, which FSIS must approve as suitable for use under prescribed conditions.

FDA Logo

Livestock (i.e., cattle, sheep, swine, goat, horse, mule, or other equine) are considered "amenable" and must be slaughtered and processed under the FMIA. The USDA issues a "grant of inspection" to meat processing facilities and the inspection process follows the FMIA requirements. Non-amenable game animals (i.e., exotic species) such as deer, elk and buffalo are not required to be slaughtered under FMIA and, by default, fall under the authority of the FDA. The Agricultural Marketing Act (AMA) authorized the USDA to regulate food labeling for exotic species of animals and allows for voluntary inspection of exotic species on a fee-for-service basis.

The Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) provides for certain exemptions from USDA jurisdiction, e.g., products that contain meat ingredients in relatively small proportions, or are not considered by consumers to be products of the meat industry. Generally, the USDA has determined by policy that the relatively small proportions are: 3 percent or less raw meat; less than 2 percent cooked meat or other portions of the carcass; or 30 percent or less fat, tallow or meat extract, alone or in combination. The USDA determines the exception on a case-by-case basis. A condition for the application of these exemptions is that product exempt from USDA jurisdiction must still be prepared with USDA inspected meat or from an inspection system equivalent to the USDA inspection system. In general, any product exempted from USDA jurisdiction cannot be represented as a meat product, except as provided in the regulations.

The Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) explicitly preempts state laws regulating labeling of meat products. The Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, also known as the "Doctrine of Preemption", requires states to follow federal rules. All labels on meat and poultry products destined for commerce must be in accordance with all applicable federal rules and approved by the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). If a manufacturer's product is accurately labeled under federal rules when packaged, the product remains accurately labeled—regardless of where a portion of a given production lot is ultimately offered for sale. Meat and poultry products that do not bear the USDA-approved label, unless expressly exempt, may not be distributed in interstate commerce.

Federally Inspected
Product can be sold in all states and foreign commerce.


Federally Inspected

State Inspected
Product can only be sold in the state in which it was inspected
(e.g., Texas).

State Inspected

States

The 1967 Wholesome Meat Act requires states to have inspection programs "equal to" that of the federal government. The act includes requirements to conduct and maintain meat and poultry inspection programs and maintains minimum sanitation requirements. States that have meat inspection programs are indicated in the States Resources section below.

The Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA) of 1967 established package labeling requirements to help consumers acquire accurate information on the net quantity of the contents of packages and make value comparisons between packages of similar commodities. It requires the identity of the product, the name and place of business of the retailer, packer or manufacturer, and the net weight quantity of the product to be placed on the package. The Act authorizes additional regulations where necessary to prevent consumer deception (or to facilitate value comparisons) with respect to descriptions of ingredients, slack fill of packages, use of "cents-off" or lower price labeling, or characterization of package sizes.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the nation's consumer protection agency and enforces laws that protect consumers from fraud, deception and unfair business practices in the market place. The Federal Trade Commission Act prohibits the "false advertisement of foods, drugs and cosmetics." The FPLA directs the Federal Trade Commission to issue regulations requiring that all "consumer commodities" be labeled to disclose net contents, identity of commodity, and name and place of business of the product's manufacturer, packer or distributor. The FTC administers consumer commodities that are consumed or expended in the household, not covered by the FDA or the FSIS. FSIS and FTC, in practice, generally coordinate their activities to avoid duplication. FSIS takes the lead in addressing the labeling of meat and poultry products. Advertising of meat products is within the purview of the FTC. It is prudent to consult FSIS labeling regulations, rules and policies when developing advertising for meat products.

Seal of the Federal Trade Commission

The Department of Commerce promotes trade, job creation, economic growth, sustainable development, and improved standards of living for Americans. The Office of Weights and Measures of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Department of Commerce, is authorized to promote to the greatest practicable extent uniformity in State and Federal regulation of the labeling of consumer commodities.

Seal of the Department of Commerce

The National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST) mission is to promote U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve quality of life. The NIST maintains handbooks that contain guidelines for labeling and packaging. Currently, all states have adopted these standards. Click here to view the current Uniform Package and Labeling Regulations handbook.

National Institute of Standards and Technologys Logo

State Resources

Below are the 48 contiguous states, Alaska and Hawaii with state Web site links, Department of Agriculture Web site links, and indication of states with meat inspection programs.

Alabama
State Website
State Department Of Agriculture
Operates Meat Inspection Program
Alaska
State Website
State Department Of Agriculture

Arizona
State Website
State Department Of Agriculture
Operates Meat Inspection Program
Arkansas
State Website
State Department Of Agriculture

California
State Website
State Department Of Agriculture

Colorado
State Website
State Department Of Agriculture

Connecticut
State Website
State Department Of Agriculture

Delaware
State Website
State Department Of Agriculture
Operates Meat Inspection Program
Florida
State Website
State Department Of Agriculture

Georgia
State Website
State Department Of Agriculture
Operates Meat Inspection Program
Hawaii
State Website
State Department Of Agriculture

Idaho
State Website
State Department Of Agriculture

Illinois
State Website
State Department Of Agriculture
Operates Meat Inspection Program
Indiana
State Website
State Department Of Agriculture
Operates Meat Inspection Program
Iowa
State Website
State Department Of Agriculture
Operates Meat Inspection Program
Kansas
State Website
State Department Of Agriculture
Operates Meat Inspection Program
Kentucky
State Website
State Department Of Agriculture

Louisiana
State Website
State Department Of Agriculture
Operates Meat Inspection Program
Maine
State Website
State Department Of Agriculture
Operates Meat Inspection Program
Maryland
State Website
State Department Of Agriculture

Massachusetts
State Website
State Department Of Agriculture

Michigan
State Website
State Department Of Agriculture

Minnesota
State Website
State Department Of Agriculture
Operates Meat Inspection Program
Mississippi
State Website
State Department Of Agriculture
Operates Meat Inspection Program
Missouri
State Website
State Department Of Agriculture
Operates Meat Inspection Program
Montana
State Website
State Department Of Agriculture
Operates Meat Inspection Program
Nebraska
State Website
State Department Of Agriculture

Nevada
State Website
State Department Of Agriculture

New Hampshire
State Website
State Department Of Agriculture

New Jersey
State Website
State Department Of Agriculture

New Mexico
State Website
State Department Of Agriculture

New York
State Website
State Department Of Agriculture

North Carolina
State Website
State Department Of Agriculture
Operates Meat Inspection Program
North Dakota
State Website
State Department Of Agriculture
Operates Meat Inspection Program
Ohio
State Website
State Department Of Agriculture
Operates Meat Inspection Program
Oklahoma
State Website
State Department Of Agriculture
Operates Meat Inspection Program
Oregon
State Website
State Department Of Agriculture

Pennsylvania
State Website
State Department Of Agriculture

Rhode Island
State Website
State Department Of Agriculture

South Carolina
State Website
State Department Of Agriculture
Operates Meat Inspection Program
South Dakota
State Website
State Department Of Agriculture
Operates Meat Inspection Program
Tennessee
State Website
State Department Of Agriculture

Texas
State Website
State Department Of Agriculture
Operates Meat Inspection Program
Utah
State Website
State Department Of Agriculture
Operates Meat Inspection Program
Vermont
State Website
State Department Of Agriculture
Operates Meat Inspection Program
Virgina
State Website
State Department Of Agriculture
Operates Meat Inspection Program
Washington
State Website
State Department Of Agriculture

West Virginia
State Website
State Department Of Agriculture
Operates Meat Inspection Program
Wisconsin
State Website
State Department Of Agriculture
Operates Meat Inspection Program
Wyoming
State Website
State Department Of Agriculture
Operates Meat Inspection Program
 

References

1 The Labeling and Consumer Protection Staff. Office of Policy, Program, and Employee Development. Food Safety and Inspection Service, U.S.
      Department of Agriculture. (August 2007.) Post, R., Budak, C., Canavan, J., Duncan-Harrington, T., Jones B., Jones, S., Murphy-Jenkins, R.,
      Myrick, T., Wheeler, M., White, P., Yoder, L., and Kegley, M. Hogan & Hartson, LLP. Washington, DC.