The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law in January of 2011 as a means to give FDA authority to regulate the way food is grown, harvested, and processed. Within FSMA includes regulations specific to the sanitary transportation of food to protect food from farm to table. Motor carriers are specifically held responsible regarding prevention practices during transportation that create food safety risks. These risks include failure to adequately clean vehicles between loads, failure to protect food, and failure to properly refrigerate throughout the trailer. The rule applies to all shippers, loaders, carriers, and receivers.
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Explore this issueOctober/November 2018
Specific to the trucking industry, the regulations establish requirements for four key areas: 1) vehicles and transportation equipment, 2) transportation operations, 3) training, and 4) records. Under the regulations, the design and maintenance of equipment must be kept up to date to ensure transported food does not become unsafe for consumption at any time. The measures taken during the process of transportation to ensure food safety, such as adequate temperature controls, preventing contamination, and protection of food from contact with non-food items, are all covered under transportation operations. Training of carriers and utilizing best practices and documentation is required under the act throughout the carrier and shipper transport process. The question for motor carriers is how the process of records and maintenance will be examined and how fines may be enforced.
The Right Documentation and Use of Data
Food safety remains at the heart of FSMA with documentation being required for compliance. Since documentation is critical, the widespread adoption of recently mandated electronic logging devices (ELD) will help significantly.
FSMA is requiring compliance that may create new challenges for shippers, carriers, and receivers trying to maintain standards of food products during transport, loading, and delivery processes. Shippers will need to document and communicate their food safety requirements to carriers in areas of equipment, operations, and training. Failure to provide documentation of the compliance can result in fines, cargo claims, and criminal sanctions.