Protecting Food

Protecting Food as it Grows

  • The Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development (MDARD) regulates the state's pesticide industry and promotes the judicious use of pesticides on or near areas where food is grown. 
  • People who apply pesticides must be trained, tested, and then approved by the department before they are allowed to apply the chemicals. 
  • New rules further protect human, animal and environmental health by requiring posting and notification of pesticide spraying, safeguards, around schools and sharing more information with consumers. 
  • Every pesticide used in Michigan must be registered and approved by MDARD. The department has denied the use of specific pesticides as being dangerous to human health.
  • Every complaint of pesticide misuse is investigated within 24 hours. 
  • MDARD works with Michigan's 82 Soil and Water Conservation Districts to encourage the development of "sustainable" farming programs designed to reduce the use of pesticides and fertilizers. 
  • MDARD works to protect groundwater from pesticide contamination through the Michigan Groundwater Stewardship Program, a unique statewide partnership to provide information and assessment tools for pesticide and nitrogen fertilizer users to help them identify risks to groundwater.   
  • Through programs like Michigan Clean Sweep, MDARD works to remove outdated pesticides and other agricultural chemicals from Michigan farms and dispose of them in licensed hazardous waste facilities. MDARD also sponsors a program to recycle used pesticide containers.   
  • Licensing and inspection programs are conducted on all dairy farms in the state. Fluid milk plants, frozen dessert plants, milk haulers, and all others affiliated with the dairy industry are similarly regulated.   
  • MDARD monitors the testing of all raw milk for animal drug residues.   
  • Certain animal diseases, particularly those that can be passed on to humans through the food chain, such as tuberculosis, brucellosis, listerosis, and salmonellosis, by law, must be reported to MDARD's Animal Industry Division. That division operates programs that control and eliminate those diseases.   
  • MDARD works to keep Michigan free of cattle tuberculosis as well as cattle and swine brucellosis through testing samples from slaughter plants and routine testing of bulk milk samples.   
  • MDARD works cooperatively with USDA to eliminate Salmonella enteritidis in eggs, when it is discovered through a human outbreak confirmed by the health department or when the disease is diagnosed in a poultry flock.  
  • All reports of alleged toxicoses in livestock are investigated. Appropriate samples are taken for testing and, if warranted, quarantines and other measures are put in place to assure that the animals do not enter the food chain.

Protecting Food at the Processing Plant and at the Store

  • MDARD staff inspects the plants where food is processed including bakeries, candy manufacturers, cereal and flour mills, and processors of ice, maple syrup, fruit, and vegetables. In 2010, 705 seizures occurred due to a variety of violations.   
  • In 2010, food inspectors conducted 18,194 inspections in food establishments which included monitoring the wholesomeness of food, the sanitary conditions of the facility, and the misuse or inappropriate storage of pesticides.   
  • A special sampling and inspection program assures all frozen desserts and soft cheese products are free of pathogenic bacteria (e.g., Listeria, Yersinia, etc.) which can cause illness, especially in the elderly, young, and immuno-suppressed.   
  • Dairy inspectors inspect and test all dairy products including infant formulas for detection of pesticide residues and heavy metal compounds.  

Protecting Food Once It's Home

You and the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development (MDARD) are partners in insuring that your food is protected once it's at your home. Here are ways the MDARD is making sure you and your family have safe food.

  • Call 800-292-3939 or e-mail us at MDA-Info@Michigan.gov if you have a question or problem with your food when you get it home from the grocery store. The MDARD will connect you with the expert you need to help you with your problem.
  • The Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development releases information to the media and on our website on issues that affect the food you bring home. To find out which foods have been recalled, go to "Food Recalls". 
    • Clean: Wash your hands and surfaces involved with food frequently.
    • Separate: Cross contamination is how bacteria can spread from one food to another. Keep raw meat, poultry and seafood and their juices away from ready-to-eat foods.
    • Cook: Cook food-particularly meats and eggs--to proper temperatures.
    • Chill: Refrigerate promptly. Set your refrigerator no higher than 40°F and the freezer unit at 0°F.
  • When you bring food home, sometimes you will use it to make a picnic, barbeque or meals for camping.

Protecting Food Throughout the Food Chain

  • The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) laboratory is one of the top pesticide and safety labs in the country and is part of a comprehensive pesticide residue testing program with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.   
  • Laboratory equipment is regularly updated to permit technicians to analyze residues to minute trace amounts, including the ability to detect parts per million.   
  • MDARD's laboratory tests fresh commodities and processed foods, including baby food, for pesticide residues.   
  • In addition to the pesticide residue testing, MDARD's laboratory conducts microbiological and pathogen testing of food and dairy products; tests for antibiotic and other drug residues in milk; and mercury and other toxic elements in fish, dairy, and other food products.  

Protecting Food as it Leaves the Farm Gate

  • Every year the department selects a number of fresh commodities to be tested for the presence of pesticide residues. Since the initiation of this program in 1990, results have shown that either no residues are present or if present, residues were at levels well below approved tolerance levels.
  • A general dairy sampling program monthly examines all dairy products for microbiological and chemical contaminants. Over 7,000 samples are processed every year.
  • Dairy inspectors stop drug residue-contaminated raw milk from being processed by sampling the product from each milk tanker. Dairy producers whose milk tests positive for drug residues are aggressively prosecuted.