Pending FDA Rule Governing Transportation of Human and Animal Food (Or, Keep it Cold) (Or, Greater Regulation of the Cold Chain Anticipated)
This week we will once again focus on emerging regulations that impact food and beverage supply chains. One regulation, which is fairly sweeping, is the proposed rule governing Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food. Found at Federal Register Vol. 79, No. 24, the new rule is promulgated under the Sanitary Food Transportation Act of 2005 (SFTA) and the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 (FSMA).
The rule was proposed back in February 2014, and the comment period came and went that year, but it has still not been adopted in final form. However, a final rule along the lines of what has been proposed is expected to go into effect March 2015.
The Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food Rule proposes additional requirements on shippers (meaning food manufacturers), carriers (meaning transportation providers), and receivers involved in the shipment of food by motor vehicle or rail. The rule’s stated purpose is to “allow the transportation industry to continue to use best practices concerning cleaning, inspection, maintenance, loading and unloading of, and operation of vehicles and transportation equipment… to ensure that food is transported under the conditions and controls necessary to prevent contamination and other safety hazards.” Interestingly, although the new rule is an FDA regulation, it applies also to meat and poultry, which typically are governed by the USDA.
The rule would impose several new requirements, including:
requiring that shippers specify to carriers in writing their sanitary and temperature control requirements for vehicles and other transportation equipment before food shipment, and maintain records documenting that this information was provided;
requiring carriers to demonstrate, for food subject to temperature control requirements, that they maintain required temperature controls;
requiring carriers to provide information to shippers about previous cargo hauled in bulk vehicles and the intervening cleaning of bulk transport vehicles;
requiring carriers to develop and implement written procedures that specify their practices for cleaning, sanitizing, and inspecting vehicles and other transportation equipment; and
requiring carriers to establish sanitation training for personnel engaged in food transportation.
It is not clear whether any additional modifications will be made to this proposed new rule before it becomes final. We will certainly keep our readers informed of any new developments!