The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently released its Food Code Adoption Status Report for 2021. The Food Code is FDA’s official guidance on food safety best practices in retail and foodservice environments for local, state, tribal, and territorial jurisdictions (SLTTs). FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition’s (CFSAN’s) Office of Food Safety compiled the Food Code Adoption Status Report, using data obtained from FDA’s Retail Food Specialists who monitor Food Code adoption activities within states and territories.

All 50 states, Washington D.C., Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands were monitored for and included in the 2021 Status Report. According to the report, almost 90 percent of the U.S. population lives in a state where at least one state agency has adopted some version of the food code. More specifically, 62.47 percent of the population lives in a state that has adopted one of the two most recent versions of the Food Code (2017 and 2013 versions), while 43.42 percent lives in a state that adopted the most recent version (2017 version). 

California is the only one of the 50 states that has not adopted some version of the Food Code. Of the states that have adopted the Food Code, 34 have adopted either the 2017 or 2013 versions, while 18 states have adopted the 2017 version. South Dakota is the state with the oldest Food Code—the 1995 version.

Each state has an individual approach to regulating retail food and foodservice; one, two, or three state agencies within the same state may be charged with regulating different aspects of the jurisdiction’s retail food and foodservice sectors. In total, there are 64 state regulatory agencies; 39 states have a single state agency that is responsible for regulating retail food stores and foodservice establishments, and 12 states have multiple regulatory agencies. Of the 64 state regulatory agencies, the vast majority have adopted some version of the Food Code.

The Status Report explains that there are two code adoption methods: short-form and long-form. Short-form adoption involves publishing a statement that informs the public of the proposed code, which 21 of the states used. Long-form adoption, used by 27 states, requires publishing the code in its entirety. 

In 2021, three state agencies achieved changes to their Food Code adoption status. North Carolina updated its adoption of the Food Code from the 2009 version to the 2017 version. Oklahoma and Texas updated to the 2017 version from the 2013 version.

Two territorial agencies—Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands—have adopted the 2017 Food Code using short-form format. Guam has adopted the 2005 Food Code using long-form format. No data has been reported on the Food Code status in American Samoa or Northern Mariana Islands.