As many as 48 million – or one in six – Americans contract a foodborne illness each year.1 This results in 128,000 hospitalizations and over 3,000 deaths annually, costing an estimated $55.5 billion in medical treatment, lost productivity and mortality.2

In response, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has established new food safety regulations for sanitary transportation practices for shippers, loaders, carriers by motor and rail vehicle and receivers addressing:

  • Vehicle and transportation equipment
  • Transportation operations
  • Training of carrier personnel
  • Maintenance of records

Rule compliance for most businesses was effective April 6, 2017. Non-motor carriers employing fewer than 500 persons and motor carriers with less than $27.5 million in annual receipts will have another year to comply.

What does the new FSMA rule mean for you?

The goal of the new FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) on Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food is to prevent risky practices that are currently contaminating human and animal food during transportation, including failure to properly refrigerate food and inadequate cleaning of vehicles between loads.

Key requirements of the new rule include:

  1. Design and maintenance of vehicles and transportation equipment must be so that it does not cause the food it transports to become unsafe. For example, they must be adequately cleanable for their intended use and capable of maintaining temperatures necessary for safe transport.
  2. Measures taken during transportation must ensure food safety, including adequate temperature control, prevention of contamination of ready to eat and raw foods, protection from food contamination by non-food items in the same load or a previous load on the vehicle, and the protection of food from cross-contact, i.e., the unintentional incorporation of a food allergen.
  3. Carrier personnel must be trained in food safety and basic sanitary transportation practices. The FDA will be developing a free training model for carriers in the coming months, or carriers can train their own personnel. The FDA does not require training courses to be approved by FDA or that their instructors be certified.
  4. Carriers and Shippers must maintain written records of their compliance with the above-mentioned rules for up to a year. The FDA is currently training investigators on the new rule and is expected to begin a first round of inspections soon to assess the level of industry readiness.

Ensuring 21st Century Food Preservation   

Preserving food safety regulations from farm to table, especially in light of the new FSMA rules, may involve implementing new technology tools for tracking/tracing and applying advanced supply chain strategies in warehousing, packaging and transportation.

Some trucking companies have been proactive since the rule began, implementing robust temperature control programs, including placing remote monitor with cargo and implementing telematics devices to track temperature and operation of the refrigeration unit.

Others are implementing new hardware and software including cloud-enabled transportation management systems, automatic guided vehicles and bio-illumination based pathogen detection systems as part of their ongoing efforts to ensure safety and freshness of product.

On a simpler scale, companies are instituting controls that limit and regulate access to fresh and non-processed food products in transit, as well as having their vans and tankers professionally cleaned in potentially-contaminating situations, such as hauling produce after a fresh meat load.

Contact your HUB transportation specialist to help plot out your next steps in maintaining FSMA compliance.

[2] “Why our food keeps making us sick.” Fortune Magazine.