The Missouri Department of Agriculture touches the life of nearly every Missourian every day by ensuring that the food, fuel and other products consumers buy for themselves and their families are sold in a fair, equitable marketplace. This week, in honor of National Consumer Protection Week, we’re highlighting the work of some of the Department’s programs that directly impact consumers’ lives.
Ensuring the safety of Missouri’s agricultural products, from grains to milk to fresh produce to meat, is a top priority. Each of the Department’s five divisions works to ensure that consumers continue to enjoy a safe, wholesome and affordable food supply, as a healthy food system begins on the farm and ends with healthy communities. From the Animal Health Division to Plant Industries to Agriculture Business Development, the Missouri Department of Agriculture is focusing on the safety of our food, working to raise awareness and strengthen food safety efforts among producers, processors and consumers.
The Missouri Department of Agriculture uses many tools, from outreach and training to inspections and regulations, to ensure that food is safe and wholesome. To help consumers understand the steps in food safety efforts, like raising awareness and strengthening education of producers, processors and consumers, the Department put together a page of food safety resources on our website.
- Dairy Programs – Missouri’s State Milk Board oversees more than 1500 milk producers and processors within its authority to promulgate rules, permit, license and certify milk and milk product handlers, test facilities, vehicles and products and to condemn illegal dairy products.
- Farmers’ Market Handbook – Farmers’ market managers, vendors and visitors can use the Missouri Farmers’ Market Handbook to learn about local and state food handling, safety and sale regulations.
- Feed and Seed Inspection Program – Through Missouri’s program, facilities producing livestock feed are inspected in accordance with FDA Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) guidelines. Facilities producing food for humans and livestock are also reviewed in accordance with Good Management Practices (GMP) inspection guidelines.
- Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Inspection Program – Through the Department’s Plant Industries Division, producers and processors handling fresh produce can participate in voluntary USDA Good Handling Practices and Good Agricultural Practices (GHP/GAP) audits of their operations. To learn more about GHP/GAP, visit the program online at http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/gapghp.
- Missouri Egg Law – Under Missouri’s Egg Law, the Department provides rules for the proper packing, storing and labeling eggs, including temperature requirements for transportation. Missouri also adopts USDA standards for grading and selling eggs, ensuring that producers and consumers can count on consistent marketing and quality throughout the state.
- Meat and Poultry Inspection Program – Missouri’s program provides inspections and compliance reviews at a level equivalent to USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service reviews of processing facilities selling meat products within the state. The Department also provides assistance for facilities and individuals developing Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points (HACCP) plans to improve their operations.
- Poultry Health & Improvement Program – Missouri participates in the National Poultry Improvement Program, providing inspections and guidance for producers on biosecurity, animal health, sanitation and assisting with consumer education efforts ranging from properly handling poultry at home to preventing disease on the farm.
- Training Opportunities – In cooperation with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and the Food and Drug Administration, the Missouri Department of Agriculture is working to make more training opportunities related to identifying and responding to food safety risks available for producers, processors, inspectors and emergency responders.
Want to know more? Visit the Department online at mda.mo.gov. The Missouri Department of Agriculture works hard each day to protect all Missourians. Consumer Protection is a top priority for MDA, and our team takes pride in helping consumers continue to enjoy a safe, fair marketplace.