On January 31, the FDA issued its proposed rule for safe and sanitary transportation of foodstuffs in the U.S., which is required by the Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA).
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“This proposed rule will help reduce the likelihood of conditions during transportation that can lead to human or animal illness or injury,” said Michael R. Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, in a press release. “We are now one step closer to fully implementing the comprehensive regulatory framework for prevention that will strengthen the FDA’s inspection and compliance tools, modernize oversight of the nation’s food safety system, and prevent foodborne illnesses before they happen.”
The rule, which will be discussed at three public sessions (Feb. 27 in Chicago; March 13 in Anaheim, Calif.; and March 20 in College Park, Md.), focuses significant attention on the cleaning of vehicles between shipments and refrigeration during shipments.
Newer technologies should facilitate shippers’ compliance with the new requirements, says Don Hsieh, director of commercial and industrial marketing for Tyco Integrated Security’s Food Defense program. “In the past, there were temperature checks at the beginning of shipment and at the end point, and not much in between; FDA is saying that there is risk all the way throughout. And with cleaning, audits have been some guy with a clipboard, once a quarter or once a year. There are now technologies that can be used to actively monitor temperature en route, and alert you if it goes beyond the right zone. Similarly, video monitoring now allows you to remotely sample a time period to see if cleaning was being done as prescribed. You have much more assurance of compliance.”
The rule also focuses attention on securing of the food during transport—something else Hsieh says can be technologically enabled. “Trailers can be secured with a GPS-linked lock and monitored so that you know exactly when and when they are opened. There are technologies for every single piece of this regulation that can be applied to really fulfill the spirit of FSMA and the FDA rules.”