Inspections. The division conducts inspections of various food and dairy establishments to minimize the risk of foodborne illness in food and dairy products processed, produced, stored, distributed, and sold in both retail and wholesale food businesses throughout Florida.
Laboratory Services. The division houses biological and chemical testing laboratories to help ensure Florida consumers have the safest possible food products available. The chemical laboratories test for a variety of chemical containments, such as heavy metals and pesticides in food products. The biological laboratories test for a variety of biological pathogens and harmful organisms in both food and dairy products, in addition to analyzing samples collected from environments where food and dairy products are processed and handled.
Food Emergency Response. The division also plays a role in the state's emergency response network. Specifically, the division has dedicated staff connected to the State Emergency Response Team through Emergency Response Function (ESF)-17. The purpose of ESF-17 is to coordinate the state’s response for animal and agricultural issues in case of an emergency or disaster situation.
Food Defense. The division houses a biosafety laboratory within the Food Emergency Response Network (FERN) implemented by the United States Department of Agriculture and United States Food and Drug Administration in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Through FERN the division assists with national food protection efforts in advance of large public gatherings, such as Super Bowls or national conventions.
In Fiscal Year 2021-22, the division conducted 29,195 retail food establishment inspections, 6,734 manufactured food establishment inspections, 2,301 biological and 3,188 chemical laboratory tests on food samples, During the year, 94% of food establishments met inspection requirements. Additionally, 99% of dairy establishments were deemed in compliance.
Hemp Regulation. The 2023 Florida Legislature enacted Ch. 2023-299, Laws of Florida, which, among other provisions, revises the requirements that hemp extract must meet before being distributed and sold in this state; provides that hemp extract may only be sold to businesses in this state which meet certain permitting requirements; and requires the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to adopt related rules.
Additionally, the law amends s. 500.03, Florida Statutes, which adds hemp extract, as defined in s. 581.217, Florida Statutes, to the definition of “food” and specifies that hemp extract is considered a food that requires time and temperature control for safety and integrity of the product. The law also adds a requirement that hemp extract be processed in a facility that holds a current and valid permit issued by a human health or food safety regulatory entity with authority over the facility and that facility meets the human health or food sanitization requirements of the regulatory entity. Such compliance must be documented by a report from the regulatory entity confirming that the facility meets such requirements.
Produce Safety: Requirements, Implementation, and Issues for Congress, Congressional Research Service, March 2021
Foodborne Illnesses and Outbreaks from Fresh Produce, Congressional Research Service, February 2019
Food Safety Requirements for Produce Growers: Retailer Demands and the Food Safety Modernization Act, United States Department of Agriculture, April 2019
Websites of Interest
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety Research Information Office
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Foodborne Germs and Illnesses
Gateway to Government Food Safety Information
Florida Department of Health, Food Safety and Sanitation
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and Food Safety, U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Protect Food and Water During Hurricanes and Other Storms, U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Division of Food Safety, Director Dr. Matthew Curran, 850-245-5520