Agriculture is a major industry for the Golden State. With 88,000 farms and ranches, California agriculture is nearly a $36.6 billion dollar industry that generates at least $100 billion in related economic activity. In 1919, the California Legislature created a single department responsible for protecting and promoting agriculture. The California Department of Food and Agriculture (“CDFA”) is now organized into six divisions. The department operates at more than 100 locations throughout the state.
Food Safety: Everyone Has a Role
Everyone, from the farmer to the consumer, has a role in keeping food safe. Branches within CDFA Animal Health and Food Safety Services oversee the safety of California’s milk and milk products and assure that meat products not covered by USDA oversight are safe. Other divisions within the Department work closely with agricultural commodity groups to develop safe and efficient methods of food production via voluntary, proactive quality assurance programs. Animal Health Branch collaborates with animal production quality assurance programs to enhance on-farm food safety practices.
The U.S. food safety system is complex, being composed of many federal, state and local stakeholders, including agriculture, health and environmental agencies. It is not uncommon for several agencies to play roles in assuring the safety of a single food commodity from farm to fork.
Animal and Plant Products
Regulations governing the safety of animal and plant products at the production level are enforced by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the California Department of Public Health, CDFA Milk and Dairy Food Safety Branch and local health departments.
Regulations governing food processing are enforced by the FDA, the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service and CDFA programs including the CDFA Meat, Poultry and Egg Safety Branch and CDFA Milk and Dairy Food Safety Branch.
The Animal Health Branch and other Department programs work with egg producers, processors, academia and other agencies to proactively assure the safety of eggs, poultry and dairy products through voluntary quality assurance programs such as the California Egg Quality Assurance Program, California Poultry Meat Quality Assurance Program, and California Dairy Quality Assurance Program.