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NC State Extension

Food Program: NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services

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Who is the Food and Drug Protection Division?

This Division of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is comprised of the following programs:

Food Program
Grade A Dairy Program
Animal and Pet Feed Program
Produce Safety Program
Drug Program
ISO Accredited Laboratories
Administrative Offices & Support Staff

Food Program Goals:

  1. Enforce food safety & ensure compliance of firms under the Division’s jurisdiction
  2. Prevent adulterated and misbranded foods from entering the marketplace
  3. Promote and protect public health
  4. “Educate before and while we regulate”

Food Program Teams:

  1. Field Team
    • Approximately 30 members, including: Food & Egg Inspectors, Field Supervisors, Technical Trainers and Home Processing Inspectors
  2. Compliance & Office Team
    • Approximately 12 members, including: Compliance Officers, Supervisors, and Administrative Staff
  3. Agricultural Science Complex Laboratory Team
    • Approximately 60 members, including: Microbiology, Microanalytical, Chemistry and Pesticide Laboratories

These three teams oversee more than 7,000 operational & seasonal firms throughout North Carolina. Field inspectors collected & laboratories analyzed more than 1,700 samples in 2019 and more than 1,000 in 2020 (Through the COVID-19 pandemic!).

While the Division can not produce an exhaustive list of all the foods they regulate, both because of the scope of regulation, and due to innovation & companies constantly developing new foods. If a company has questions about their food products, it’s advised to contact the Food Compliance Office for guidance.

Below are some of the more-commonly inspected foods covered by the Food Program:

Breads, scones, muffins, biscuits Cakes, fruit pies, pastries, cookies Traditional jams & jellies Peanut & nut butters Granola and dry mixes
Candies, chocolates Some dehydrated fruits & vegetables Roasted coffee & tea Popcorn & popcorn snacks Dried herbs & spices
Repacked dry foods Some BBQ sauces & vinegar Canned fruits & vegetables Seafood & shellfish products Salsa, ketchup, chutneys
Pickles, mustard, relishes Fermented foods Fruit butters, herbs & garlic in oil Custard, meringue pies Cheese, butter, ice cream, frozen desserts
Fresh fruit dipped in chocolate Bottled juices & other beverages Dietary Supplements Frozen fruits & vegetables Shell eggs
Various 3D grocery products isolated on white

High-Risk Foods

Low-Risk Foods

Foods implicated in food-borne illnesses Foods rarely implicated in food-borne illnesses
Refrigerated, frozen and some shelf-stable foods Mostly shelf-stable foods
High water activity foods (>0.86 aw) Low water activity foods (</=0.85 aw)
Low acid content foods (pH > 4.6) High acid content foods (pH </=4.6)
Foods requiring time & temperature control Foods with high fat, salt and sugar content
Ready-to-eat refrigerated foods, pre-made salads & sandwiches, and high-moisture cakes (ex: carrot cake) Breads, muffins, cookies and shelf-stable cakes
Low-acid canned foods (ex: canned beans and canned asparagus) Traditional jams & jellies
Pickles, sauces, fermented foods and other acidified foods Repackaged nuts, honey, spices and dry mixes
Cheese, butter, ice cream and other frozen desserts Popcorn, roasted peanuts, peanut butter
Seafood & shellfish products Granola, cereal, cereal bars, maple syrup
Bottled water, beverages, fruit & vegetable juices Tea, coffee, lemonade and ice
Dietary supplements Alcoholic beverages

What will an inspection look like for my company?

Factory Inspector Taking Notes
  1. Initial inspections are required prior to a firm starting their operations. These inspections are initiated by the firm (a food manufacturer, processor, repacker or distributor) contacting the Compliance Office and speaking with a member of the Compliance Team about their operation. The firm will then receive an email with their Inspector’s contact information for scheduling the inspection and all applicable regulations to their food operations. There is no charge or fee for inspections from NCDA&CS Food Division.
  2. A courtesy visit, or pre-inspection may be requested through the Compliance Office.
  3. At the start of any inspection, an official Notice of Inspection will be issued to the most-senior individual at the company. A leader at the facility should plan to be present with inspectors during the pre-interview, inspection and exit interview process.
  4. Each inspection will have investigation into Good Manufacturing Practices for Human Foods (21 CFR 117) and a product inspection. Samples of raw ingredients, manufacturing water or finished products may be taken from wholesale manufacturers. Product labels and select records (ex: sanitation records, training records) from the firm may be collected for review.
  5. At the conclusion of the inspection, senior members of the firm and NCDA&CS staff will have an exit interview to discuss the inspection, any corrective actions taken during the inspection and corrective actions for the future. An observation sheet will be issued to the firm for their record keeping.
  • This Division also investigates recalls, consumer complaints, and conducts re-inspections for firms with non-compliant findings.
  • Inspection frequency is established and adjusted due to the risk of the food being manufactured.

Webinar & Important Contacts

Daniel Gaines Food Administrator
Joan Sims Food Compliance and Rapid Response Manager
Minoo Mehrotra Food Compliance Supervisor

Food Program Headquarters:

Steve Troxler Agricultural Sciences Center

4400 Reedy Creek Road

Raleigh, NC 27607

Food Compliance Phone Number: (984) 236-2480

Photo of ASC NCDA&CS building

Suggested Links

Food Program website:

Home Processing Resources & Application:

Business Link NC – for new business resources: