Food Laws and Regulations in the United States

Course Code: FSC 811

Credits: 3 credits

This course covers the law regulating the manufacture, distribution, and sale of food products in the United States. Topics include the regulation of labeling, food additives, dietary supplements, genetic modification, HACCP, civil and criminal liability for defective products, inspections, importation, inspections, enforcement, and many other issues of concern in the regulation of food in the United States. The course is designed to give the student a better understanding of the issues involved in the regulation of foods and a general understanding of the full scope of food regulation in the United States.

This course is taught by Professor Neal Fortin, Director of the Institute for Food Laws and Regulations. Students will gain skills and experience at integrating this knowledge and information for application in real world situations. 

Most of the course readings come from the textbook, Food Regulation: Law, Science, Policy, and Practice, 3rd edition. However, purchase of the book is optional because all required readings are provided as PDFs. (The author royalties from sales of this book to the class go to a student scholarship fund at Michigan State University.)

At the end of this course, the student will:

  • Understand the history and general organization of food regulation in the United States. 
  • Be familiar with the role of the federal agencies with regulatory roles regarding food, such as the FDA, USDA, and FTC.
  • Be able to use Internet-based resources to locate relevant U.S. food laws and regulations. 
  • Possess an organized understanding of the U.S. requirements for food labeling, health claims, food additives, adulteration, importation, exportation, and public and private enforcement of food standards. 
  • Know how to find specific requirements in federal U.S. laws and regulations. 
  • Be aware of current food law issues and be able to discuss them. 
  • Understand critical regulatory issues and their impact on food laws by use of case studies. 
  • Participate in an international network of legal, regulatory, and scientific professionals regarding food law issues.  

Topics covered are subject to change each semester, but generally include:

  • An Introduction to Food Regulation in the United States
  • Food Labeling Generally
  • Nutrition Facts Labeling and Nutrient Content Claims
  • Health Claims
  • Esthetic and Economic Adulteration
  • Regulation of Unintended Components of Food
  • Regulation of Intentional Components of Food
  • Review of the Regulation of Food
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Regulation of Modern Biotechnology with Food
  • Importation of Food into the US
  • Federal Inspections
  • Federal Enforcement
  • Private Actions; State Enforcement


This course is offered fall and spring semesters. 

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