Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
 Division of Food Safety & Inspection
Stephen Stich, Director, (518) 457-4492

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The Division of Food Safety and Inspection housed within New York State’s Department of Agriculture and Markets provides a vital service that is critical to maintaining the safety of the food supply in New York State from the producer to the consumer.

The Food Safety and Inspection Division is the Department’s largest division. The Division currently issues licenses to a variety of food-based businesses or establishments in New York State. The type of licenses issued are dependent on the food processing done at the establishment. Licenses can range from complex operations associated with the manufacturing, processing, handling, rendering and/or packaging of various types of food, to the storing or sale of closed/sealed foods and beverages.

Once a business is licensed, it can expect the Division to help ensure its proper operations through a variety of activities, including but not limited to: unannounced sanitary inspections, sampling of food products for analysis by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Food Laboratory, investigation of consumer complaints or food borne illnesses, seizure of food products and verification of product labeling.

Although a large majority of our food safety program rests solely on establishment inspections; the Department also has a state-of-the-art Food Laboratory that processes and analyzes over 40,000 samples annually. The sampling program within the Food Safety Inspection Division is the food surveillance program, which involves the routine collection of food samples from licensed establishments. Once collected, the inspector sends the samples to the Department’s Food Laboratory to be tested for a variety of biological and chemical contaminates. This rigorous surveillance program has led to the discovery of many undeclared ingredients (adulterated food) and live pathogens resulting in the seizure of such food products and/or initiation of our recall/food safety alert processes. This work done by the Department has led to several Class 1 recalls and seizure of several tons of contaminated products.

The Department works and collaborates with other State Departments, the USDA, the FDA and a variety of food alliance groups on new and innovative approaches of ensuring food safety. See Table 2 for changes in food safety requirements that have led to an increase of 11% in food safety compliance.

Table 1
Summary of Compliance Activity within Division of Food Safety
Jan 2014 - Dec 2018

Activity Type Jan.-Dec. 2014 Jan.-Dec. 2015 Jan.-Dec. 2016 Jan.-Dec. 2017 Jan.-Dec. 2018
No. of Food Safety Inspections 34,294 35,332 35,901 35,497 30,397
   % Passing 80 78 77 76 74
   % Failing 20 22 23 24 26
BSE Inspections 391 303 225 NA NA
Injunctions Requested 23 21 40 65 52
No. of Consumer Complaint Investigations 2,318 2,490 2,645 2,441 2,727
No. of Food Seizures 1,513 2,109 2,359 2,312 2,189
   Lbs. Seized 253,050 2,664,911 491,948 345,025 318,920
   Lbs. Destroyed 189,952 2,230,813 303,492 259,064 222,487
No. of Food Recalls 241* 348* 303 232 203
   Class I 32 51 35 41 63
   Class II 164 235 220 151 100
   Class III 45 62 48 40 40
   *No. of Imports 145 110 192 104 103
No. of Food Samples Taken 1,695 2,057 3,151 2,594 2,561

TBD: To be determined

Graph 1
Top 5 Citied 'Critical' Deficiencies Cited by Division of Food Safety 2014 - 2018

    ‘Critical’ Deficiencies Definition:
     Critical deficiencies are leading contributing factors which cause foodborne illness
     Description of Top 5 critical deficiencies:

    • 4-F. *Insect, rodent, bird or vermin activity likely to result in product contamination
    • 4-A. *Food contact equipment, utensils or conveyances for potentially hazardous foods: contact surfaces unclean or not properly sanitized and likely to contribute to contamination
    • 3-D. *Employee handwashing facilities inadequate for establishments handling exposed foods
    • 4-H. *Equipment cleaning or sanitizing facilities inadequate for establishments handling potentially hazardous foods
    • 6-B. *Potentially hazardous foods are not stored at safe temperatures

Table 2
Summary of Compliance with New York State Food Safety Regulations 2005-2018

Compliance Rate % = number of passing inspections ÷ number of total inspections

Annual Food Inspector Awards for Outstanding Performance in Food Safety

Row 1 (L-R): A.Montalbano, G.Slivinski, R.Gravani, M.Knirk; Row 2: S.Stich, D.Schley, C.Woffard, J.Daganese, S.Lee, H.Bachan; Row 3: C.Patt, M.Prusakowski, M.Wolfe, D.Schrader

Front row (L-R): S.Cincinello, O.Hitchez, B.Nicol, K.Birklin, J.Stores, I.Chikva, B.Tan; Back row: S.Stich, R.Gravani, S.Shkolnikov, J.Baez, D.Walling, M.Ahmed, R.Ramlall, E.Sawyer, M.Knirk, J.Luker

Front Row (L-R): G.Slivinski, J.Trodden, B.Guralnick, S.Cincinello, O.Hitchez; Back row: S.Stich, R.Ramlall, M.Carney, C.Faas, G.Cuthbert, J.Bustamante, R.Ball, K.Reiter

Front row (L-R):J. Mirabile, K.Birklin, W.Kalabanka, S.Shkolnikov, L.Levchenko; Back row: R.Ball, J.Lopez, B.Simmons, D.Walling, S.VanNess, J.Mohammed, J.Trodden, S.Stich


The Department posts food safety alerts to notify consumers of class 1 recalls initiated by the Division of Food Safety and Inspection. The Division initiates approximately 300 recalls annually. Most of these recalls begin with an observation by a Food Inspector. This often prompts the Inspector to submit a sample to the Department's Food Laboratory for confirmation of any issues related to adulteration and/or misbranding.

Why recall foods?

A recall is initiated by a food manufacturer or distributor to remove product from commerce when there is reason to believe it may be adulterated or misbranded.

How are food recalls classified?

Recall classification means the numerical designation (1, 2 or 3) assigned to a particular product recall to indicate the relative degree of health hazard presented by the product being recalled.

What do the recall classifications mean?

Class 1 recall: A situation where reasonable probability exists that the use of, or exposure to, a violative product will cause serious adverse health consequences or death.

Class 2 recall: A Situation in which the use of, or exposure to, a violative product may cause temporary or medically reversible adverse health consequences or where the probability of serious adverse health consequences is remote.

Class 3 recall: A Situation in which the use of, or exposure to, a violative product is not likely to cause adverse health consequences.

Class 1 recalls initiated by Department Food Inspectors and Food Laboratory confirmation

The enforcement of New York State Agriculture and Markets Laws and Regulations provides a vital service that is critical in maintaining the safety of the food supply from producer to the retailer. The Division of Food Safety and Inspection is the Department’s largest Division, with a staff of approximately 200 full-time employees including about 115 food inspectors. The Division has jurisdiction over approximately 28,000 food handling establishments and conducts a variety of activities including:

Key Events 2000-2015 - indicated by ‘bullet’ on the chart

  • Effective December14, 2000 - Article 28 §500; key provisions:
    • Mandated inspection rates for retail food stores
    • Posting requirement for date & results of most recent inspection
  • Effective September 16, 2006 - Article 20-C §251-z-12; key provisions:
    • Food safety education requirement for person-in-charge of retail food store
  • Effective April 7, 2009 - Article 3 §39; key provisions:
    • Penalties for violations increased
  • 2000-2016 - Industry/Outreach training
    • Chain stores, marketing groups, and food industry alliances have increased their own training courses during this time period over and beyond government training mandates.

NYS Food Safety Rules and Regulations