Misbranded Food Law & Legal Definition


Food may deemed to be misbranded:

  1. If the label, brand, tag or notice under which it is sold is false or misleading in any particular as to the kind, grade or quality or composition;
  2. If it is sold as the product of one manufacturer when in reality it is the product of another manufacturer; or
  3. If on the label, brand, tag or notice under which it is sold there is any false statement concerning the sanitary conditions under which it is manufactured.

Misbranded food is regulated under state and federal law. At the Federal level, three agencies currently have major responsibilities for regulating food and substances that may become part of food:

  • Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) ensures the safety of all domestic and imported meat, poultry, and some egg products in interstate commerce except game meat.
  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA) within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has in its purview all domestic and imported foods that are marketed in interstate commerce (except for meat, poultry, and some egg products) as well as game meat, food additives, animal feed, and veterinary drugs.
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) licenses pesticide products and establishes maximum allowable limits (tolerances) for pesticide residues in food and animal feed. (FDA and FSIS enforce pesticide tolerances for the commodities under their jurisdiction.) In addition, EPA has regulatory and research programs related to water and food borne toxic chemicals such as dioxin.

Violations of such laws is subject to civil penalties.