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Food Processing Inspections - Frequently Asked Questions

What is the mission of the Massachusetts Food Protection Program (FPP)?

The mission of the FPP is to ensure a safe and wholesome food supply in Massachusetts.

How does the FPP fulfill this mission?

The FPP fulfills this mission by:

  • Licensing wholesale food processing and distribution establishments within Massachusetts
  • Conducting routine inspections, including sampling and testing
  • Developing legislation, regulations, policies and guidelines, and interpretations
  • Conducting foodborne illness investigations
  • Participating in public/private initiatives
  • Developing and participating in cooperative programs with other state, federal and local agencies
  • Offering educational programs and outreach
  • Undertaking enforcement actions such as embargoes, administrative sanctions, license suspensions or revocations, and civil or criminal penalties

What types of wholesale food establishments does the FPP staff inspect and license in Massachusetts?

The FPP is responsible for the licensing and inspection of all wholesale shellfish and seafood operations; milk pasteurization and dairy plants; and all other food processors and distribution establishments including those that sell, process, or distribute meat and poultry products, bakery products, or other manufactured foods.

How many wholesale facilities are inspected by the FPP?

The FPP inspects approximately 3000 Massachusetts facilities and plants annually.

What does an inspection include?

A wholesale food inspection is a focused and systematic evaluation of the facility and its processing operations. The inspection includes, but is not limited to, a review of:

  • Plant construction and design
  • Water supply and grounds
  • Control of pests
  • Equipment and utensils
  • Sanitary operations and controls
  • Source, storage, and handling of food ingredients
  • Personnel training
  • Monitoring of processing and verification records
  • Food labels and packaging
  • Sample collection

Note: Certain high-risk products or operations may require additional control procedures which are reviewed during inspection such as specific compliance requirements for milk and shellfish facilities that are certified for distribution in interstate commerce as prescribed under FDA cooperative program requirements.

How long does it take to conduct an inspection?

The duration of an inspection is dependent on several factors including, but not limited to, facility size, types of food products manufactured or distributed, level of risk associated with specific food products, and facility conditions observed at the time of inspection.

How is the Massachusetts wholesale food inspection program reviewed and evaluated for performance and expertise?

FPP inspectors and program components are audited by the FDA for compliance with the requirements of the following cooperative programs:

  • The Seafood and Shellfish Unit is audited by the FDA Regional Shellfish Specialists for compliance with the National Shellfish Sanitation Program.
  • The Milk and Dairy Unit is audited by FDA Regional Milk Specialists for compliance with the Grade “A” Pasteurized Milk Ordinance.
  • The entire wholesale food inspection program, including all three individual units, is audited by the FDA Office of Partners for compliance with FDA’s Manufactured Food Regulatory Program Standards.

Is the FPP responsible for the inspection and licensing of retail food establishments, such as restaurants and supermarkets?

The FPP does not inspect nor license retail food establishments. That regulatory responsibility rests with local city and town health departments and Boards of Health. However, in the case of a foodborne illness, the FPP will provide assistance and/or support to city and town health departments and local Boards of Health.

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