The US Food and Drug Administration announced a new rule to prevent food safety risks during the transport. This is the seventh and final major rule under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The rule is open to public comment through May 31, 2014, but like many of the recent rules the comment period will likely be extended.
The proposed rule would 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, that it has developed to ensure that food is transported under the conditions and controls necessary to prevent contamination and other safety hazards. The proposed rule is intended to ensure that persons engaged in the transportation of food that is at the greatest risk for contamination during transportation follow appropriate sanitary transportation practices. For example, the proposed rule would require that shippers inspect a vehicle for cleanliness prior to loading food that is not completely enclosed by its container, e.g., fresh produce in vented boxes, onto the vehicle. The proposed rule would also require that persons engaged in transportation operations for foods that require time/temperature control to ensure their safety (TCS food), e.g., meat, poultry, seafood, raw seed sprouts, or unpasteurized shell eggs, or to prevent microbial spoilage, e.g., pasteurized juice, take actions to ensure the maintenance of the transportation cold chain such as the pre-cooling of the vehicle by the carrier with subsequent verification by the shipper before the food is loaded onto the vehicle. The proposed rule would require that shippers specify to carriers in writing the sanitary requirements for a vehicle or transportation equipment to be provided for all food subject to this proposal and the temperature requirements for foods subject to temperature control requirements. The proposed rule would require that shippers maintain records that demonstrate that they provide this information to carriers. Additionally, for food subject to temperature control requirements, the proposed rule would require that carriers demonstrate to shippers and, upon request, to receivers that they have maintained appropriate temperature control for the food during the transportation operation. The proposed rule would also require carriers to provide information to shippers about previous cargoes hauled in bulk vehicles offered for the transportation of food and the intervening cleaning of those vehicles. The proposed rule would require that carriers develop and implement written procedures subject to recordkeeping that describe how they will provide these items of information to shippers and receivers.
The proposed rule would establish requirements for carriers to develop and implement written procedures subject to recordkeeping that specify its practices for cleaning, sanitizing, and inspecting vehicles and transportation equipment as required by this rule. The proposed rule would establish requirements for the training of carrier personnel engaged in transportation operations, including a requirement for records that document the training. Further, the proposed rule would establish procedures by which FDA will waive any of these requirements if FDA determines that the waiver will not result in the transportation of food under conditions that would be unsafe for human or animal health and will not be contrary to the public interest, and procedures that FDA will follow when revoking such waivers. The proposed rule would not cover shippers, receivers, or carriers engaged in food transportation operations that have less than $500,000 in total annual sales.
More from the FDA press release:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today proposed a rule that would require certain shippers, receivers, and carriers who transport food by motor or rail vehicles to take steps to prevent the contamination of human and animal food during transportation.
“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. “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 proposed regulation would establish criteria for sanitary transportation practices, such as properly refrigerating food, adequately cleaning vehicles between loads, and properly protecting food during transportation.
The proposed rule would apply to shippers, carriers, and receivers who transport food that will be consumed or distributed in the United States and is intended to ensure that persons engaged in the transportation of food that is at the greatest risk for contamination during transportation follow appropriate sanitary transportation practices. For example, the proposed rule would require that shippers inspect a vehicle for cleanliness prior to loading food that is not completely enclosed by its container, e.g., fresh produce in vented boxes, onto the vehicle. The proposed rule would also apply to international shippers who transport food for U.S. consumption or distribution in an international freight container by air or by oceangoing vessel and arrange for the transfer of the intact container onto a motor vehicle or rail vehicle in the United States.
The proposed rule would not cover shippers, receivers, or carriers engaged in food transportation operations that have less than $500,000 in total annual sales. In addition, the requirements in the proposed rule would not apply to the transportation of fully packaged shelf-stable foods, live food animals, and raw agricultural commodities when transported by farms. The requirements would also not apply to shippers, receivers, or carriers who are engaged in transportation operations of food that is transshipped through the United States to another country, nor to food that is imported for future export and that is neither consumed nor distributed in the United States.
The FDA is proposing staggered implementation dates for the proposed rule based on business size, ranging from one to two years after publication of the final rule.
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