Domain Eleven: Regulations and Regulators

Most cheese professionals, whether makers, distributors or mongers, need to be familiar with all or almost all of the major regulatory bodies and regulations that pertain to cheese. They should have the knowledge required to adhere to and to practice all procedures and regulations necessary to protect the work force and the consumer from health and safety hazards as required by federal, state and local authorities.


I. Federal: There is uniformity of Regulation at the Federal level. Cheese professionals may deal with different regulatory agencies but are responsible to follow the same regulations.

A. Food & Drug Administration (FDA):

  1. Food Code
  2. Pasteurized Milk Ordinance (PMO)
  3. Milk Labeling Law
  4. Imported dairy products: health and labeling standards (contact FDA at address below)
  5. 60 Day Rule – Raw Milk Rule – see PMO-Pasteurized Milk Ordinance
  6. Recall Info
  7. Guide to Inspections of Dairy Manufacturers
  8. Food Safety

Contact the FDA at:

Food and Drug Administration
Office of Plant and Dairy Foods and Beverages
5100 Paint Branch Parkway
College Park, MD 20740-3835
Tel: (301) 436-1700
Fax: (301) 436-2632


B. United States Department of Agriculture (USDA): http:

  1. Regulations
  2. Cheese Grading
  3. Licensing for importing cheeses-Dairy Import Licensing Program
    1. License: Fact Sheet from FAS (Foreign Agricultural Service)
    2. Definition of License (from Business Permit that allows an importer to bring in a specified quantity of certain goods during a specified period (usually one year).
    3. USDA Uses licensing to administer TRQ (tariff-rate quota) system  for  imports of dairy products to the U.S.  (TRQs replaced Section22 import quotas for dairy products on Jan 1, 1995).
    4. TRQ products with import license can be imported at low-tier tariff rate.
    5. FAS issues licenses in late December for following calendar year.
    6. Products needing import licenses
      1. All cow’s milk dairy products, except soft ripened cheeses (like Brie)
      2. Blue cheese made from sheep or goat’s milk
    7. Kinds of licenses
      1. Historical
      2. Non-historical
      3. Designated
    8. Import Policies and Export Reporting Division

Office of Trade Programs, FAS/USDA
Stop 1021
1400 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, DC 20250-1021
Tel:  (202) 720-1344
Fax:  (202) 720-0876

  • Food and Nutrition Information Center (FNIC) at the National Agricultural Library (NAL): FNIC’s web site provides a directory to resources for consumers, nutrition and health professionals, educators and government personnel. Visitors can find printable format educational materials, government reports, research papers and more.

II. State:  Regulations are not uniform from state to state, so links for agencies are listed here.

A.  Workmen’s Comp Agencies listed by State

B.   Departments of Agriculture listed by State

C. State Environmental Health Agencies and Departments listed by State

D. States Departments of Labor listed by State

E. State Occupational Safety Agencies listed by States

F. State Departments of Revenue and Taxation listed by States

G. State Public Utility Commissions

III. Local -Regulations are not uniform from county to county and city to city, so links for agencies are listed here.

A. Local Health Departments in the USA-Links to County Health Departments by State

B. Business Licenses and Permits

  1. Every business needs one or more federal, state or local licenses or permits to operate
  2. Licenses can range from a basic operating license to very specific permits
    1. Environmental permits
  3. Regulations vary by industry, state and locality, so it’s very important to understand the licensing rules where your business is located. Not complying with licensing and permitting regulations can lead to expensive fines and put your business at serious risk


IV. Voluntary Self-Regulation

A. HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points)

  1. HACCP program:
    1. Establish the HACCP food safety team
    2. Describe the product
    3. Identify intended use
    4. Construct a process flow diagram
    5. Verify flow diagram
    6. List all potential hazards
    7. Conduct a hazard analysis and consider any control measures
  2. Seven basic HACCP Principles
    1. Conduct a hazard analysis-What are the potential hazards?
    2. Determine the Critical Control Points (CCPs)-Where can the potential hazards occur and how can they be prevented?
    3. Establish critical limits for each CCP-A Critical limit is a condition that must be met for each CCP
    4. Establish a monitoring system for each CCP-This will ensure each CCP stays within its critical limit
    5. Establish a corrective action plan – This plan is need in case a critical control point goes outside its established limits
    6. Establish verification procedures -recordkeeping procedures that verify the HAACP system is working correctly
    7. Establish HACCP documentation and record keeping and review

B. Other voluntary certifications:

      1. National Organic Program (NOP)
      2. Animal Welfare Approved
      3. Certified Humane Raised and Handled
      4. Certified Organic
      5. Kosher
      6. Validus certified responsible producer
      7. Food Alliance Sustainable Producer
      8. Steritech