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Inspection of Food Processors and Distributors

Introduction

Picutre of person inspection food at a manufacturing facilityThe U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that each year 48 million Americans are sickened by foodborne illnesses resulting in an estimated 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. The economic impact of these illnesses is staggering since the symptoms of even a "mild" case of foodborne illness may be significant enough to require absence from school or work. Putting an actual price tag on the costs of foodborne illness is difficult but when medical expenses, loss of wages, and economic loss to industry are considered, annual cost is estimated at $77 billion in the United States alone. In Massachusetts, more than 2,000 cases of salmonella, E. coli, and campylobacter are reported annually by local boards of health (LBOH), laboratories, clinicians, and other reporters to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH).

Wholesale Food Inspections

Under the authority of the General Laws of Massachusetts, Chapter 94, the MDPH Bureau of Environmental Health’s Food Protection Program (FPP), inspects all wholesale food processing and distribution facilities in order to ensure that the Commonwealth has a safe and wholesome food supply. The routine inspection, licensing, compliance, and enforcement activities of the FPP are divided among three inspection units: Seafood and Shellfish, Milk and Dairy, and Food Processing.

Retail Food Establishments

Did You Know?
The CDC estimates that 1 in 6 Americans are sickened by a foodborne illness annually.

The responsibility for the inspection and licensing of retail food establishments, such as restaurants and grocery stores, rests with local city and town health departments and local boards of health. These inspections are required to be conducted by local officials according to standards and regulations developed by the Massachusetts Food Protection Program and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Seafood and Shellfish Unit

Massachusetts is one the nation's leading seafood producing states and the FPP licenses and inspects all wholesale seafood operations, including facilities certified to ship molluscan shellfish into interstate commerce. Each certified shellfish dealer is required to comply with the FDA's National Shellfish Sanitation Program (NSSP) regulations and is inspected between two and four times a year, depending on type of operations.

The FPP also licenses firms that process and distribute fish and fishery products other than shellfish including finfish, lobsters, shrimp, scallop meats, and a variety of value-added seafood products. Each of these wholesale seafood operations is inspected based on risks associated with specific products or processing activities. Firms that are processors or distributors of high-risk products are inspected on an annual basis and those that distribute low-risk products are inspected less frequently.

Milk and Dairy Unit

The FPP inspects and certifies pasteurization plants and distribution facilities that ship milk in interstate commerce. Each plant must comply with the requirements of the National Conference on Interstate Milk Shipments' (NCIMS) Grade "A" Pasteurized Milk Ordinance to be certified as an Interstate Milk Shipper (IMS). The NCIMS is a cooperative program between all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. Trust Territories, and the FDA. The NCIMS sets minimum standards and inspection frequencies for milk shipped in interstate commerce.

The FPP inspects and certifies all dairy plants throughout Massachusetts including those that limit their milk distribution to in-state shipments only (non-IMS) and facilities that produce other milk-based products such as frozen desserts, yogurt and cheese. Additionally, the FPP also conducts Single-Service Rating (SSR) inspections and sample collection at facilities that manufacture containers (i.e. jugs, cartons) and closures used to package milk.

Food Processing Unit

The Food Processing Unit is responsible for inspecting and licensing food processors and distributors in Massachusetts. These operations include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • General food manufacturers and distributors
  • Bottled water and carbonated non-alcoholic beverage bottlers and distributors
  • Wholesale bakeries and commissaries
  • Warehouses and public cold storages
  • Juice and cider producers
  • Meat and poultry processors
  • Residential kitchens
  • Vending machine operations
  • Manufacturers of specialty food products

Similar to seafood wholesale operations, facilities that process or distribute high-risk products are inspected on an annual basis. Facilities that distribute low-risk foods are inspected less frequently.

Data Considerations

When reviewing and interpreting the inspection data food processors and distributors, it is important to take into consideration the following:

  • Facilities that process or distribute high-risk foods are inspected more frequently than facilities that process or distribute low-risk food. Therefore, in accordance with this risk-based approach, not all establishments are inspected annually
  • Each inspection report documents conditions observed at the facility on the day the inspector was present and may not reflect a firm’s compliance over an extended period of time.
  • No re-inspection data are available for review on this inspection tracking website.

For additional information, please read the FAQ.

Available Data on Massachusetts Food Processors and Distributors

Click the Maps and Tables button on this page to access the following data for Massachusetts food processors and distributors. The most current available data will be shown. Be sure to check the site periodically as new data are added each year.

  • Company name
  • “Doing business as” name (if applicable)
  • Address
  • Type of license
  • Type of products manufactured or distributed
  • License issuance and expiration dates
  • Date of last inspection
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