Food policy is the area of public policy concerning how food is produced, processed, distributed, and purchased. Food policies are designed to influence the operation of the food and agriculture system. The policy consists of setting goals for food production, processing, marketing, availability, access, utilization and consumption, and describes the processes for achieving these goals. Food policy can be on any level, from local to global, and by a government agency, business, or organization. In addition, food policy involves schools, regulations, and eligibility standards for food assistance programs; and it involves health and safety, food labeling, and even the qualifications of a product to be considered organic.
There are three main objectives for food policy: to protect the poor from crises, to develop long-run markets that enhance efficient resource use, and to increase food production that will in turn promote an increase in income. Food policy comprises the mechanisms by which food-related matters are addressed or administered by governments, including international bodies or networks, and by public institutions or private organizations.
- 1 History
- 2 Food policies and population health in a global setting
- 3 Food policy in the United States
- 4 Food labeling
- 5 Criteria table
- 6 Conflicts
- 7 References
- 8 See also
History of food policy within the U.S. Federal Government
The history of food policy in the United States started in the 1880s with policies being carried out by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 1883, Harvey W. Wiley, M.D., was appointed chief chemist at USDA. Wiley devoted his career to raising public awareness of problems with adulterated food; developing standards for food processing; and campaigning for the Pure Food and Drug Act, also known as the "Wiley Act." For much of the 1880s, policymakers discussed how to deal with diseased livestock being imported into of exported out of the United States. In 1884, the USDA Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) was created with the purpose of ensuring diseased livestock could not be used as food. In 1890, the BAI was charged also with testing meats being exported from the U.S. and ensuring these were disease free. In 1906, the Pure Food and Drug Act and the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) were both signed into law. Both prevent production and sale of adulterated or misbranded foods, the Pure Food and Drug Act focusing on general foods, and FMIA focusing on meats.
The Bureau of Chemistry, which was charged with enforcing the Pure Food and Drug Act, was reorganized in 1927, becoming the Food, Drug, and Insecticide Administration, and eventually came to be called the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1931. In 1938, the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act was passed by Congress, giving the FDA authority to set food safety standards. The FDA was reorganized to be under the direction of the Department of Health and Human Services in 1940. The Agricultural Marketing Act (AMA) was passed in 1946, allowing inspection of exotic and game animals on a pay-by-case basis, and giving the USDA the authority to inspect, certify and identify the class, quality and condition of agricultural products.
In 1953, with large scale reorganization in the USDA, the BAI and Bureau of Dairy were abolished, among other bureaus, and their duties were transferred to the Agricultural Research Service (ARS). The Poultry Products Inspection Act was passed in 1957. This ensured that poultry products shipped in interstate commerce as well as those products being imported into the U.S. were continually inspected for diseases, and that product labels are accurate. In 1958, the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1938 was amended to include the Food Additive Amendment, addressing concerns over invisible hazards from chemicals added to the foods. Also, the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act was passed in 1958. In 1978, this act was amended to ensure that all meat that was inspected by the FSIS to be used for human consumption was humanely slaughtered.
In 1965, reorganization of the ARS' Consumer and Marketing Service brought federal meat and poultry inspection into one program. In 1967, the Wholesome Meat Act amended the FMIA, and in 1968, the Wholesome Poultry Act amended the PPIA, both requiring states to conduct inspection programs at least as stringent as federal inspections. The Egg Products Inspection Act (EPIA), passed in 1970, ensuring the continuous inspection of the processing of egg products. In 1995, this task was taken over by FSIS and the FDA took responsibility for shell egg products. In 1977, following several changes in organization, the Food Safety and Quality Service, later renamed the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) in 1981, was created to perform meat and poultry grading.
Following an e-coli outbreak in 1993, inspections began to rely more on scientific tests as opposed to the usual sensory based inspections. FSIS pushed research of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP). In 1996, the Pathogen Reduction/HACCP Systems were issued, ensuring that illness-causing pathogens are reduced on raw products. Now, while the industry must ensure they are using safe practices, the government is ultimately responsible for setting safety standards and enforcing those standards through inspections and regulation.
History of food policy outside of the U.S. Federal Government
Food policy came about on an international level after the first meeting of the World Food Council in 1974. A year later, the International Food Policy Research Institute began. Policy-makers gained an interest in the aspects of supply and demand and how supply and demand influence food security. Food policy has been changing since the beginning due to various factors. One factor is the population size. Population size has changed from being rural to mostly urban. Also, jobs were mainly agricultural but have slowly changed to more non-agricultural. Problems with nutrition have also changed and food policy has had to change with it. Lack of nutrition was the only issue but obesity, diabetes, and heart disease have become an increasing problem; despite the fact that there are more nutritional products available. Due to a constantly changing society, food policy must change to meet the needs and demands of society. Teachers can affect how students eat and the student's healthy choices. Teachers have used candy and sweets to reward students but it has not shown students how to live healthy lives.
Food policies and population health in a global setting
Food policy is generally linked to the health of a population. The early literature in under-nutrition involving developing countries was concerned with the effects of food shortage practices on spreading diseases such as marasmus and Kwashiorkor. With increases in food production, consumption of energy-dense foods, and the reduction of physical activity, there has been an increase in the prevalence of obesity in developed countries, especially in middle income families, and in some developing countries. Such issues are receiving greater attention from nutritionists and health economists in part because of the life-time costs of treating associated conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. Also, these policies have aided gains in life expectancy achieved in the last few decades by reducing the rate of premature deaths due to obesity and chronic diseases.
From the standpoint of policy makers, the diets of lower income families within developing countries need to contain higher quantities of nutrients such as dietary protein, iron, calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin C, in relation to the overall energy intake. By contrast, food policies for developed countries should encourage lower consumption of energy-dense foods such as those high in dietary fat and sugars, while promoting higher intakes of dietary fiber for improving health.
Food policy in the United States
In the United States, there are several levels of food policy organizations including: federal organizations; state and local food policy councils. Federally, both the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), make policies and enforce proper implementation of these policies.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
The Food and Drug Administration is the federal agency that is responsible for ensuring the safety of the nation’s food supply. The various offices within the FDA carry out the agency's unified food program that protects and promotes the public health through the following activities:
- ensuring the safety of foods for humans, including food additives and dietary supplements, by setting science-based standards for preventing foodborne illness and ensuring compliance with these standards
- ensuring the safety of animal feed and the safety and effectiveness of animal drugs, including the safety of drug residues in human food derived from animals
- protecting the food and feed supply from intentional contamination
- ensuring that food labels are truthful and contain reliable information consumers can use to choose healthy diets.
U.S. Department of Agriculture
The United States Department of Agriculture has a broad range of interests involved in food policy.
The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is responsible for making sure that the United States' commercial supply of meat, poultry, and egg products is safe, wholesome, and correctly labeled and packaged.
The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) focuses on helping children and needy families get proper nutrition through food assistance programs and nutrition education. Two widely known programs within FNS are the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).
The Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) works to improve the health and well-being of Americans by developing and promoting dietary guidance that links scientific research to the nutrition needs of consumers. The widely accepted food pyramid was used as part of this dietary guidance, but more recently MyPlate has been developed to show proper nutrition practices in reference to a place setting. The food groups of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy are each allotted a certain amount of space on the plate, showing the public the proportional amounts of each food they should be eating during each meal.
The National Organic Program (NOP) regulates the standards for any farm that wants to sell an agricultural product as being organically produced.  In order for the agricultural product to be labeled organic, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used. Additionally, any animal product that is labeled organic must follow guidelines that the livestock living conditions, health care practice and feed follow organic specifications.
Other food policy councils
Many food policy councils (FPCs) also exist outside of the Federal Government. These councils work to educate the public, shape public policy, and even create new programs. Many states, regions, cities and other organizations have formed their own FPCs. Some of these FPCs are commissioned by the government, while others are collaborative efforts by grassroots organizations. Some councils are found at universities, such as the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale.
State-run FPCs include:
- Alaska Food Policy Council
- Arkansas Food Policy Council
- Connecticut Food Policy Council
- Florida Food Policy Council
- Georgia Food Policy Council
- Hawaii Food Policy Council
- Illinois Food, Farms & Jobs Council
- Tri-State Food Policy Council (Illinois, Iowa, Missouri)
- Iowa Food Systems Council
- Kansas State Food Policy Council
- Massachusetts Food Policy Alliance
- Michigan Food Policy Council
- Mississippi Food Policy Council
- Montana Food System Council
- New Mexico Food and Agriculture Policy Council
- New York State Council on Food Policy
- North Carolina Sustainable Local Food Advisory Council
- Ohio Food Policy Advisory Council
- South Carolina Food Policy Council
- Virginia Food System Council
FDA Regulated Labeling
Food labeling requirements are spelled out in the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (abbreviated FFDCA, FDCA, or FD&C). Nutrition labeling is required for most prepared foods, and is voluntary for raw produce and fish. The most recognizable label is the nutrition facts label found on all prepared foods. This lists the suggested serving size followed by the amount per serving of calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, protein, and a list of some micronutrients found in the food. Ingredients are also included on the label, listed from the highest quantity to the lowest quantity.
There are also requirements for allergen labeling. According to the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (Public Law 108-282, Title II), 2% of adults and 5% of infants and children have food allergies, and 90% of these allergies are related to: milk, eggs, fish, Crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans. Labeling must contain a list of these major food allergens which are contained in the product, or which may have come in contact with the food during production.
USDA Regulated Labeling
According to the Organic Foods Production Act and the National Organic Program:
- A product can be labeled "100% Organic" if it contains only organic ingredients and processing aids
- The label "Organic" is used for products containing at least 95% organic products.
- Products made up of at least 70% organic ingredients may be labeled "Made with organic ingredients"
Some factual labeling terms are not regulated. These terms include:
- No drugs or growth hormones used
- Free range / cage free
- Sustainably harvested
Use of these terms on labels may be added in effort to improve marketing for the product.
|A food system can be judged by whether it|
|is technically efficient in social prices||is good for nutrition||offers security|
|is allocatively efficient in social prices||supports higher standards of education||reduces vulnerability|
|leads to increased consumption by the poor||enables people to have status||is good for the environmental sustainability|
|leads to increased asset-holding by the poor||enables people to have dignity||promotes equality in general|
|is good for health||enables people to have rights||promotes social inclusion|
|promotes gender equality||enables people to have influence||underpins freedom|
Food policy has both political and economic factors that contribute to the challenges it faces. Food policy is not completely based on politics but politics have an impact. Countries that have more political involvement typically have more of an influence on solving issues dealing with hunger and poverty. Countries that have less political involvement may not have as much to do with food policy.
The solution to hunger and poverty can be found by increasing the amount of food intake per individual. The amount to increase by depends on how much food is needed to carry out day to day tasks. Some challenges that this solution faces are: having enough money to afford the cost of food, having the food supply, as well as having enough supply of nutritional foods. Also, having the education on what foods to buy and which are nutritional can be an issue. These are all factors that can cause a food policy to fail.
Food policy involves both consumers and producers. If prices are too high for consumers to afford nutritional food products then it reduces the amount they can purchase. High food prices can cause lower income households to have a poorer quality diet. Producers rely on food prices for income and therefore cannot make the prices so low that they are not able to survive. There is a fine line between supply and demand which creates a challenge for food policy.
- Drake University. "What is a food policy?". State and Local Food Policy Councils. Iowa Food Policy Councils. Retrieved 28 February 2011.
- "Managing food price risks and instability in a liberalizing market environment: Overview and policy options". http://www.sciencedirect.com.
- "FSIS History". USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. 14 February 2012. Retrieved 5 April 2012. "... In 1883, Harvey W. Wiley, M.D., was appointed chief chemist at USDA. Wiley devoted his career to raising public awareness of problems with adulterated food; developing standards for food processing; and campaigning for the Pure Food and Drugs Act, also known as the "Wiley Act." ...'"
- Maxwell, Simon. "Food Policy Old and New". Development Policy Review. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8659.2003.00222.x.
- Algazy, Jeffrey. "The World is Getting Fat". Why Governments Must Lead the Fight Against Obesity. Mckinsey. Retrieved 31 March 2011.
- "Oxford University Press: Food, Economics, and Health: Alok Bhargava". Retrieved 2009-01-20.
- "How do the activities of USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service differ from the activities of FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition?". USFoodandDrugAdministration. 2011. Retrieved 1 April 2012. "... agency's unified food program that protects and promotes the public health through the following activities: ensuring the safety of foods for humans, including food additives and dietary supplements, by setting science-based standards for preventing foodborne illness and ensuring compliance with these standards ensuring the safety of animal feed and the safety and effectiveness of animal drugs, including the safety of drug residues in human food derived from animals protecting the food and feed supply from intentional contamination ensuring that food labels are truthful and contain reliable information consumers can use to choose healthy diets ...'"
- "About FSIS". USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. 2 April 2012. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
- "About FNS". USDA Food and Nutrition Service. 9 February 2012. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
- "About Us". USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. 14 March 2012. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
- "Home". USDA ChooseMyPlate.gov. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
- "Organic Certification". United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 6 April 2012.
- "National Organic Program". USDA Agricultural Marketing Service. 7 February 2012. Retrieved 6 April 2012.
- "Council List". North American Food Policy Council Webpage. Retrieved 10 April 2012.
- "Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (Public Law 108-282, Title II)". US Food and Drug Administration. 21 August 2009. Retrieved 12 April 2012.
- "Organic Labeling and Marketing Information". USDA National Organic Program. April 2008. Retrieved 6 April 2012.
- Timmer, Peter (1983). Food Policy Analysis. The World Bank. pp. 1–12.
- International Food Policy Research Institute
- Toronto Food Policy Council
- Vancouver Food Policy Council