Would you feed your family with the food that comes off your trucks?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration finalized a new food safety rule in April to prevent food contamination during transportation. The rule, under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), requires those involved in transporting human and animal food – shippers, loaders, carriers and receivers – to follow best practices for sanitary transportation, such as properly refrigerating food, adequately cleaning vehicles between loads and properly protecting food during transportation.
Small businesses other than motor carriers that are not also shippers and/or receivers, employ fewer than 500 persons and motor carriers having less than $27.5 million in annual receipts have to comply with the new rules two years after the April 6, 2016, publication of the final rule. Other businesses that are not otherwise excluded from coverage have to comply one year after the publication of the final rule – April 2017.
Changes to the rule include:
* Added transportation operations (cleaning, inspection, maintenance, loading and unloading, and operation)
* Added loaders and unloaders – starting to target the personnel involved
* Flexibility in temperature monitoring (shipper request for continuous monitoring)
* Requirement to take appropriate action in case of adulteration due to equipment failure. That means, Ryan explained, if a reefer fails or containers are compromised and allow contaminants in, it has to be recorded and shown in documentation that action was taken.
* Vehicles and equipment must match needs of transported food
* Shipper reliance on contractual agreements and procedures to assign some of these responsibilities to other parties, if they agree to accept the responsibility.
All carriers will be required to train their drivers and transportation personnel on the rules, awareness of potential food safety problems such as cross contamination that may occur during food transportation, and basic sanitary transportation practices to address those potential problems.
Carriers must supply a vehicle and transportation equipment that:
- Meets any requirements specified by the shipper
- Appropriate to prevent the food from becoming filthy, putrid, decomposed or otherwise unfit.
- Demonstrate to the shipper and if requested, to the receiver, that it has maintained temperature conditions during the transportation operation consistent with those specified by the shipper.
The rule requires those involved in transporting human and animal food properly refrigerate food, adequately clean vehicles between loads and properly protect food during transportation.
* Create a food safety team or one person to develop procedures for the company.
* Consider the appropriate Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). Are these standards within your industry? What are we asking our employees to do? How should our processes be completed to be efficient and promote food safety?
* Create a Food Safety Manual. Start with GMPs and document them. Ask yourself: “What are we transporting here? Can we mix this with other types of freight? Is there a risk of cross-contamination? How will you transport safely for the duration of the trip?”
Other factors to consider are site and vehicle security. Do you know who’s in your building? Someone could walk into your building and tamper with food and raw products. That could get traced back to you if you don’t have proper safety measures in place.
When it comes to training you should link food safety training to all employee orientation programs and keep records of all training. And be sure to follow-up.
Have scheduled meetings and times to check on your processes; walk through the facility and look at equipment, talk to your drivers, talk to your customers, visit your partners to make sure they’re handling your food in a manner consistent with your safety goals.
Preparation and prevention is key. By starting now carriers will solidify themselves for any future inspections.
By getting out in front of this, this will keep you from losing money, recalls, being put out of service, and you will not be the reason people will get sick or die from foodborne illness.