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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

For Federal, State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Officials

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FDA Roles & Responsibilities

A number of FDA organizations contribute to the National Retail Food Program. To coordinate activities and provide direction, in 1996 FDA established a National Retail Food Program Steering Committee, composed of representatives from the National Team that includes FDA's Office of Regulatory Affairs (ORA) and the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN). The Steering Committee develops a recommended retail food protection strategy that is reflected in the agency's workplan. The workplan incorporates the recommendations of the Office of Inspector General’s Retail Food Safety Study and coordinates the retail program activities of the five FDA Regions, Division of Human Resource Development, CFSAN Retail Food & Interstate Travel Team, and Division of Federal-State Relations.

Each of these FDA components has primary responsibility for the following activities in the implementation of this Operational Plan:

  • Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
    • Science-Based Food Code Development
    • Technical Support
    • Policy, Procedures, and Guidance
    • Coordination with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other Federal Agencies
    • Participation with Standard-Setting Organizations


Office of Regulatory Affairs (ORA)

FDA Regions Organized into a Chartered National Retail Food Specialists’ Team

  • Regional Customer Support
  • Regional Leadership
  • Partnership Development/Implementation/Oversight
  • Technical Assistance
  • Regional Training

Division of Human Resources Development

  • Curriculum Development
  • Course Development and Implementation
  • Tracking Educational Accomplishments
  • Certification and Recertification
  • Customer Educational Support

Division of Federal-State Relations

    • Information Exchange and Distribution
    • Communication with State and Local Agencies and Associations
    • Intra- and Inter-Agency Communications


Even with primary roles and responsibilities delineated, the various FDA organizations described above work in concert with each other, under the auspices of the Retail Food Steering Committee. Information is disseminated from the Steering committee to members of the organizations represented. The Steering Committee creates workgroups, each designed to address particular issues related to achieving the performance plan and ultimately the strategic goal. Each workgroup is provided a charge (charges) by the Steering Committee. Volunteers are solicited from each of the FDA organizations listed above to serve jointly on these workgroups. It is typical to have both headquarters and field staff represented, as well as participation from state and/or local retail food programs. By functioning in this manner, we achieve improved consistency across all regions, and support for programs and initiatives nationwide.