Since the beginning of food safety as a science and institution, two agencies have defined the regulatory landscape the industry must follow: The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Together, they created the U.S. food safety system framework and played a key role in shaping global food safety standards. Now, a growing number of state food regulations are beginning to change the food safety landscape, both for the food service sector, as well as manufacturers and processors. Here’s what you need to know. 

What Are the New State Food Regulations Passed in 2023?

In 2023, numerous states passed their own food safety regulations, diverging from existing federal guidelines. Most of these new regulations are tailored to address unique local needs and concerns, particularly in the food service and retail sector, like these regulations from Texas. 

However, numerous new laws apply specifically to manufacturers and processors, and will have a significant impact on the companies operating under their jurisdictions. Manufacturers in California, Maine, Virginia, and Iowa, as well as companies that sell in those regions, face the most disruption.  

  • California A 418 is the first bill in the U.S. to ban the use and sale of food and beverage products with food additives like brominated vegetable oil, red dye 3, potassium bromate, and propylparaben. Though the ban won’t go into effect until 2027, manufacturers that use these additives must change their product formulations to remove these ingredients. It’s worth noting that the European Union has already banned all four of these chemicals.  
  • Virginia H 837 outlines the responsibility that the commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services has to inspect any food manufacturer, food storage warehouse, or retail food establishment to ensure compliance with food safety regulations. 
  • Iowa S 314 re-regulates raw milk, allowing manufacturers to sell unpasteurized milk directly to consumers. However, the bill establishes additional oversight mechanisms that raw milk producers must operate under in order to ensure public safety. 
  • Maine H 1131 mandates workforce development in the food and beverage industry, requiring the University of Maine to offer education specifically related to meat and poultry processing. In addition to actual production processes and methodologies, the training must include information about quality control, as well as HACCP standards and planning for meat and poultry processors. 

State Food Regulations and Federal Food Safety

Local legislators aren’t just passing these new state food regulations to win election campaigns — they play a vital role in improving food safety, and even have a track record of trickling up to influence federal regulations. These new state laws are a direct reflection of: 

  • New Science 
    Researchers have linked red dye no. 3, potassium bromate, and the other food additives banned in California to cancer, endocrine disruption, and other major health issues. In the case of red dye no. 3, the FDA even recognizes it as a carcinogen and has banned the substances from cosmetics. California outlawing the additive in food and beverages is a response to growing scientific evidence that these substances are not safe for human consumption. 
  • Growing Concern for Food Safety 
    A common thread among all these laws is how the public is increasingly focused on the safety of the food and beverages they consume, and they expect regulators to look out for their health. California’s food additive ban only tapped into consumer concerns at the national level. In November, the FDA proposed a ban on brominated vegetable oil.  
  • Changing Consumer Demand 
    In addition to more concerns about food safety, consumers also want access to different types of products. Iowa’s de-regulation of raw milk reflects an increased demand for unpasteurized whole milk products and the potential health benefits of consuming raw dairy.  

Navigating the New Landscape of State Food Regulations

The emergence of new state-specific food regulations, such as California's ban on certain food additives, presents a new challenge for food and beverage manufacturers trying to maintain compliance. Although these new state food regulations don’t immediately alter federal food safety policies, they indicate potential changes on the national level that could be on the horizon. In this rapidly evolving regulatory landscape, it’s critical for manufacturers to stay informed about new laws, and prepare in advance as much as possible to mitigate risks and reduce compliance costs. 

AIB International is dedicated to training customers on how to meet evolving standards and keeping industry stakeholders informed about proposed food safety regulations. Sign up for the newsletter to stay updated on the latest food safety news.

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