Food and DairyThe mission of the Food and Dairy Division (FDD) is to protect public health by ensuring a safe and wholesome food supply, while working to maintain a viable food and dairy industry. Food safety is the division's top priority.
Michigan has historically been at the forefront in progressively assuring safer foods. It was Michigan's Food and Dairy Commissioner who, in 1896, called for a meeting in Detroit which brought together many states to insure the interstate shipment of safer foods. This organization flourished and is now known as the Association of Food and Drug Officials.
Food and Dairy Regulations
Food Safety and Inspection Program
Michigan’s grocery and convenience stores, food processors, food service establishments, and food warehouses are regulated by the Food Safety and Inspection Program of the Food and Dairy Division (FDD), in partnership with Michigan’s local health departments. FDD staff works with a variety of food industry, regulatory, consumer, and academic partners to assure the food produced, distributed, and sold in Michigan is safe. By working closely with these partners, FDD has been able to identify and resolve public health issues relating to food safety in a timely manner.
In addition to assuring a safe and wholesome food supply, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) and local health department food inspectors play a key role in assuring a robust, growing industry. Although the overall number of food establishments has been stable for the past five years, approximately 2,500 new food establishment licenses are issued each year in Michigan. These range from grocery stores and restaurants to small on-farm and specialty food processors and larger processors who distribute their food products worldwide.
Food inspectors assist the owners of these new businesses before, during, and after the licensing process, by giving advice and guidance on building design and processing plans; reviewing labels and standard operating procedures to assure food safety compliance; explaining state and federal regulatory requirements; and connecting new business owners with the resources they need from local health departments, zoning officials and other state departments. Food inspectors also provide marketing resources to new business owners that are available through MDARD’s Office of Agriculture Development and the Michigan State University (MSU) Product Center. This assistance helps new businesses get off to a great start, which directly translates to new jobs and a stronger economy.
Milk and Dairy Product Safety and Inspection Program
Through the efforts of the Milk and Dairy Product Safety and Inspection Program, Michigan consumers are assured the safest and most wholesome milk supply available in the world. Michigan dairy farmers produce about 5.5 billion pounds of milk annually, ranking the state eighth in the nation for milk production. By inspecting Michigan's Grade A and Manufacturing Grade milk-producing farms on a regular basis, dairy inspectors insure that all fluid milk for bottling in the state meets stringent standards. In addition, cheese factories, butter plants and ice cream facilities are checked for sanitation. Samples of dairy products are analyzed at the department's laboratory to assure that standards are met. Dairy staff also protects the public from false labeling of dairy products so consumers can buy with confidence.
Foodborne Illness Outbreaks and Food Recalls
The increasingly globalized and complex nature of our food supply requires the Food and Dairy Division and our food safety partners to work more closely than ever to rapidly detect, investigate, and control food contamination incidents. In fact, the CDC has documented increased numbers of reported multi-state outbreaks in recent years (http://www.cdc.gov/outbreaknet/outbreaks.html).
MDARD and Michigan’s 45 LHDs provide the front line investigators for foodborne illness investigations. Staff often coordinates activities with professionals from local, state and federal government and the private sector.
Foodborne illness outbreaks are identified by investigation of both unconfirmed foodborne illness complaints and reports of laboratory confirmed illnesses. Close coordination of response efforts prevents illnesses and saves lives through early detection of outbreaks and rapid implementation of control measures. Control measures include but are not limited to seizures, facility license limitations or closures, and food recalls. Division staff participated in intensive traceback investigations throughout the year as part of larger multi-state investigations. Without accurate tracebacks, outbreaks often cannot be tracked to their sources and the root causes of the outbreaks identified.
Lessons learned from these investigations are utilized by MDARD, other agencies and food industry decision-makers to improve risk-based food regulatory and prevention strategies thereby limiting future outbreaks from the same causes.
Solving Foodborne Illness: Food SAFE Team - Along with close relationships with local health departments, Michigan Department of Community Health and the United States Food and Drug Administration, FDD has created an interagency Food SAFE (Special Actions for Food Emergencies) Team. This team has the mandate to address all food safety emergencies.
In conjunction with addressing food safety, samples are taken regularly of food ranging from ground meats to maple syrup to deli salads. Samples may be analyzed for contaminates, foreign objects, illegal additives, fat content or pathogens.
Kevin Besey, Director
Food and Dairy Division