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Interstate Commerce and FDA Jurisdiction

Interstate commerce refers to products that cross state lines prior to consumption, or products composed of ingredients that have crossed state lines.

Interstate commerce refers to products that cross state lines prior to consumption, or products composed of ingredients that have crossed state lines.

What is Interstate Commerce?

If a product crosses state lines between the start of the manufacturing process and when it is received by the individual who purchases it, then it has entered "interstate commerce".

Additionally, if the product is composed of ingredients from out-of-state, then it is considered to be a part of "interstate commerce" -- even if the product was created and consumed in state.

The technical definition of interstate commerce is:

"(1) commerce between any State or Territory and any place outside thereof,

and

(2) commerce within the District of Columbia or within any other Territory not organized with a legislative body."

FD&C Act [21 U.S.C. 321(b)] 

Examples of food that enters interstate commerce:

  • A frozen pizza business that has a website and ships to buyers nationwide.

  • A food processing facility that operates in New York and supplies cookies to bakeries in New Jersey.

  • A distributor that holds food products created by local food producers in a warehouse and distributes them to a local retailer who, in turn, sells them in several states

 

How Does Interstate Commerce  Relate to the FDA?

Whether a product enters interstate commerce is a major factor in determining whether a food business falls under FDA Jurisdiction. The other major factor is what type of food business it is. 

However, it is worth noting that all domestic facilities that engage in food processing, production, packing, or holding, must register as a Food Facility.

Additionally, the FDA may regulate any product that is adulterated or misbranded, even if that product doesn't enter interstate commerce.