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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

For Federal, State, Local and Tribal Officials

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State Cooperative Programs

State Cooperative Programs:


The Federal-State Cooperative Programs are composed of three separate food safety programs, the Milk Safety Program, the National Shellfish Sanitation Program and the Retail Food Protection Program. The authority for these programs is provided in the Public Health Service Act (42 USC 243). Section 311(a) states in part..."The Secretary shall...assist states and their political subdivisions in the prevention and suppression of communicable diseases, with respect to public health matters, shall cooperate with and aid states and local authorities in enforcement...health regulations and shall advise the several states on matters relating to preservation and improvement of the public health."

Responsibility for carrying out the provisions of the Act related to food protection was delegated within PHS to the Commissioner of Food and Drug in 1968 (21 CFR 5.1 (a)(2)&(4)). The three programs are often cited as examples of how a small expenditure of Federal resources can be leveraged to guide a much larger resource investment by state and local governments.

Read more about the State Cooperative Programs here.

What is the FDA's Role in Cooperative Programs?

The responsibility and authority for regulating retail and foodservice establishments, milk plants and dairy farms, and molluscan shellfish plants and growing waters lie primarily with state and local governments. Officials at these government levels inspect these food facilities, license establishments, issue permits, and enforce the laws and regulations. FDA assists state and local programs through the Retail Food, Shellfish and Milk cooperative programs by providing guidance, training, certification and other technical assistance.

How are the Cooperative Programs Implemented?

The FDA-State partnership in these three programs is constantly evolving and being redefined. FDA has signed Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with the Interstate Milk Shippers Conference and the Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference and the Conference for Food Protection, which represent the formal agreements between FDA and the state and local regulatory authorities.

The image below depicts how the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN), Office of Regulatory Affairs (ORA) Headquarters (DFSR) and ORA Regions work cooperatively with states to implement the model codes, ordinances and other guidance documents under the State Cooperative Programs.

Questions regarding State Cooperative Programs and how DFSR can assist you? Contact Linda Collins. 

State Cooperative Program Roles & Responsibilities