Frequently Asked Questions - Food Technology
The USDA, the FDA, and the EPA all have a role in regulating agricultural biotechnology in the United States.
The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the USDA is responsible for protecting American agriculture against pests and diseases. The agency regulates the field testing of genetically engineered plants and certain microorganisms.
The FDA is responsible for the safety and proper labeling of all plant-derived, genetically engineered food and feed. Under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, the FDA ensures that food and feed manufacturers meet regulations and standards.
The EPA regulates the sale, distribution, and use of all pesticides in the environment, including those that are produced by an organism through techniques of modern biotechnology. The EPA also sets tolerance limits for residues of pesticides on and in food and animal feed.
For more information visit the United States Regulatory Agencies Unified Biotechnology Web site.
There are a variety of sanitizing agents that have been shown to pathogenic growth on fresh produce. The FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition report: Analysis and Evaluation of Preventive Control Measures for the Control and Reduction/Elimination of Microbial Hazards on Fresh and Fresh-Cut Produce describes various methods and sanitizing agents used in reducing pathogens on produce.
Food irradiation is a cold process that uses ionizing radiation to kill microorganisms without affecting the temperature. The irradiation process can also extend the shelf life of foods by destroying or inactivating spoilage microorganisms and ripening enzymes.
The Food Safety Project of the Iowa State University Extension provides a fact sheet on food irradiation.
In addition, find Food Irradiation Resources on the FSRIO Web site:
Biosensor technology is used for the rapid detection of pathogens in our food supply. Since food pathogens can be a serious threat to public health, much research is being completed to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.
Biosensor research projects conducted by the USDA and other agencies can be viewed at the FSRIO Research Projects Database.