Food Law for Public Health

Food Law for Public Health

Food Law for Public Health

Food Law for Public Health


Food and its many aspects - production, consumption, marketing, labeling, procurement, safety - have become a mainstay of both popular discourse and the practice of public health. As topics such as GMO labeling, food-borne illness outbreaks, soda bans, and food taxes have come to the forefront of the public and academic conscious, understanding the legal underpinnings of these issues is vital. Food Law for Public Health is the first book on food law written specifically for a public health audience without a legal background. It offers comprehensive coverage of every aspect of food law:• Established and newer food law issues in the United States• Overview of US law, plus federal, state, and local governments' authorities and limitations to address food for public health• Controversial topics related to food marketing, food labeling, and the various regulatory concerns over food safety• Federal nutrition programs and guidelines • Litigation among the food industry, consumers, and the government Food Law for Public Health offers necessary grounding in food law for audiences in public health, nutrition, food studies, policy, or anyone with a professional interest in this increasingly important area. With clear writing and thought-provoking questions and exercises for classroom discussion, itis an ideal tool for learning and teaching.


This book covers a wide range of topics related to how the law impacts food in the United States. The law is created by the government and thus it is important to understand the structure and function of government entities within the United States. This chapter discusses the structure and function of the federal, state, and local governments, while the remainder of the book delves further into the government’s role as a regulator, educator, purchaser, and purveyor of food. Chapter 2 explains how the U.S. Constitution is the backbone of all other law in the country. Because this book is about food law, it is important to point out that the terms “policy” and “law” are not interchangeable. Rather, policy is the intent behind a law, a concept that guides government action. A government’s desire to pass a certain law is based on a policy objective—what the government wants to achieve by passing the law. However, many use the word policy to include law. The CDC defines policy as “a law, regulation, procedure, administrative action, incentive, or voluntary practice of governments and other institutions.”

The U.S. Constitution established three branches of the federal government: the executive, legislative, and judicial. Each branch shapes policy in its own way. The Constitution also established state governments. The term “federalism” describes the division of authority and the relationship between the federal and state governments. All 50 states have their own state constitutions and state governments that generally mirror the federal system with the same three branches. Each branch of government and state governments are discussed in this chapter.

Federal Government


The federal executive branch is made up of the U.S. President, Vice President, and the executive administration, which consists of the Cabinet, agencies and . . .

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