The Food and Drug Administration, Washington, on April 5 (Tuesday) finalized a new food safety rule under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that will help to prevent food contamination during transportation. The rule will require those transporting human and animal food by motor or rail vehicle to follow recognized best practices for sanitary shipments. These include ensuring proper food refrigeration, adequate cleaning of vehicles between loads and proper protection of food protection during transportation.
Manufacturers not already using relevant food-safety protocols in their distribution operations now have a deadline. Larger businesses must comply within one year of the rule's publication. Smaller manufacturers have two years to reach compliance. The action includes all food and beverage products shipped throughout the U.S., including products made domestically and imports that are later moved throughout the country.
Part of a larger effort to focus on prevention of food safety problems throughout the food chain, the rule implements the Sanitary Food Transportation Act of 2005 (SFTA) as well as the requirement in section 111 of FSMA that instructed FDA to issue SFTA regulations.
For some companies, the new ruling could change aspects of the supply chain, such as requiring pre-cool delivery trucks before loading in warmer climates.
"Consumers deserve a safe food supply, and this final rule will help to ensure that all those involved in the farm-to-fork continuum are doing their part to ensure that the food products that arrive in our grocery stores are safe to eat," said Michael R. Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine.
Implementation of the sanitary transportation rule and all FSMA final rules will require partnership, education and training.
"We recognize the importance of education and training in achieving widespread compliance, and we are committed to working with both industry and our government partners to ensure effective implementation of all of the new food safety rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act," added Taylor.
So far, the FDA has finalized six of the seven major rules that implement the core of the FSMA. The final rule, on Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food, builds on the preventive controls rules for human food and animal food, the Produce Safety rule, Foreign Supplier Verification program rule and the Accreditation of Third-Party Certification rule, all of which FDA finalized last year. The seventh rule, which focuses on mitigation strategies to protect food against intentional adulteration, is expected to be finalized later in 2016, the agency says.