Only two states and two territories—Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands—are at the “optimal level” of FDA Food Code adoption, meaning they adopt the newest version in its entirety as soon as it is released, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) latest FDA Food Code Adoption Report. The report covers the period ending on December 31, 2023.

The FDA Food Code is a model that assists state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) food control jurisdictions by providing a scientifically sound, technical, and legal basis for regulating the food retail and foodservice sector. The first Food Code was published in 1993, and since 2001, it has been updated in four-year intervals, with the 2022 Food Code being the most recent edition. FDA encourages widespread, uniform, and complete adoption of the code.

As of December 31, 2023, 35 states have adopted one of the three most recent versions of the FDA Food Code (2022, 2017, and 2013), representing 63.36 percent of the U.S. population. This is an increase of one state from the prior reporting period (ending December 31, 2022). Only 21 states, representing 46.28 percent of the U.S. population, have adopted either the 2022 or 2017 version of the code, which is an increase of three states (Kansas, North Dakota, and Colorado) from the 2022 report.

A total of three states—Pennsylvania, Mississippi, and Colorado, representing 6.56 percent of the U.S. population—as well as Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, have adopted the 2022 FDA Food Code. This is an increase of one state (Colorado) from the previous reporting period.

Additionally, two jurisdictions—an agency in Georgia and the State of Missouri—are working towards adoption of the 2022 FDA Food Code. Another agency in Iowa is in the process of a “red tape review” on the adoption of the 2017 version (with Supplement).

FDA’s report also noted that adoption of the 2017 Food Code increased every year since it was published in February of 2018 and before the 2022 code was published; that adoption of the 2013 code was increased before the 2017 code was published, and decreased after the 2017 code was published; and that adoption of the 2009 Food Code decreased from 22 states to eight states between 2016 and 2023.

Several jurisdictions are behind the times in terms of Food Code adoption, with seven states and one territory—South Dakota, Indiana, Louisiana, one of two agencies in New York, Vermont, Alaska, New Jersey, and Guam—using the 1995, 2001, or 2005 version.

Breakdown of FDA Food Code Adoption by Agencies

There are 64 state agencies across the U.S. that are responsible for providing regulatory oversight of restaurants, retail food stores, or both. A state may give regulatory oversight to multiple agencies within that state, each assigned to regulate different segments of the retail/foodservice sector. Of the 64 total state regulatory agencies, 45 are responsible for both restaurants and retail food stores, 44 of which have adopted some version of the code (the California Department of Public Health being the exception). Of the 64 total state regulatory agencies, 43 have adopted one of the three most recent Food Codes (2022, 2017, and 2013). Moreover, 62 of the 64 state agencies have enrolled in the Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards.

Additionally, nine agencies are responsible for only restaurants, eight of which have adopted a version of the FDA Food Code (except the New York State Department of Health). A further ten agencies are responsible solely for retail food stores, all of which have adopted the code.

The adoption report also compares state regulatory agencies’ own regulations against the FDA Food Code. FDA determined that the areas in which it was most common for state agencies’ provisions to be less stringent than the Food Code were: demonstration of knowledge, compliance and enforcement, food from a source that complies with the law, and employee health.

The U.S. also has a total of 42 health agencies, nearly all of which (except for the state public health departments in California and New York) have adopted a version of the FDA Food Code. All of the 17 total agriculture agencies in the U.S. and five “other” agencies have also adopted the code.