Changes to FSMA Rule May Affect Food Transportation

October 4, 2016 Comments Off on Changes to FSMA Rule May Affect Food Transportation

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) rule on food transportation became effective in June 2016, as part of the FDA’s efforts to keep food safe from contamination during transport. The goal of this rule is to prevent food transportation practices that create safety risks, such as failure to properly refrigerate food, inadequate cleaning of vehicles between loads, and failure to properly protect food.

The FMSA rule creates new requirements for vehicles and transportation equipment, transportation operations, record-keeping, and safety training related to food transportation in order to prevent contamination in the food supply chain.

Who is covered by the new FSMA rule?

This final FSMA rule applies to shippers, receivers, loaders, and carriers who transport food in, or to, the United States, including carriers from Mexico or Canada if their food loads are to be consumed or distributed in the U.S. If food from Canada or Mexico is shipped through the U.S. and does not enter U.S. distribution, those shipments are not subject to the rule. Companies who are involved in food transportation intended for export are also expected to comply with the FMSA rule until their shipment reaches a U.S. port or border.

New Requirements

The new FSMA rule’s regulations apply to equipment, food handling and transportation operations, training of carrier personnel, and record-keeping.

  • Vehicles and transportation equipment: Vehicles and transportation equipment must be designed and maintained to ensure they do not cause transported food to become unsafe. For example, they must be suitable and adequately cleanable for their intended use and capable of maintaining temperatures necessary for safe food transportation.
  • Transportation operations: Measures must be taken during food transportation to ensure safety such as adequate temperature controls; preventing contamination of ready-to-eat food from touching raw food; protection of food from contamination by non-food items in the same load or previous load; and protection of food from cross-contact, such as the unintentional incorporation of a food allergen.
  • Training: Carrier personnel must be trained in sanitary food transportation practices and training must be documented. This training is required when the carrier and shipper agree the carrier is responsible for sanitary conditions during transport. Unless specifically agreed upon by both the carrier and the shipper, the shipper retains responsibility for maintaining sanitary supply chain conditions.
  • Records: Records must be maintained showing written procedures, agreements and training (required of carriers). The required retention time for these records will not exceed 12 months, but depends upon the type of record and when the covered activity occurred.

Compliance Dates 

Generally, the effective compliance date for this new FSMA rule is one year from the date of publication, which took place on April 6, 2016. However, small businesses are given two years from the date of final FSMA rule publication to comply. The rule defines a small business as a motor carrier having less than $27.5 million in annual receipts, or businesses other than motor carriers who are not also shippers and/or receivers which employ fewer than 500 people.

Exemptions from the FMSA Rule

Certain activities and businesses are exempt from compliance with the new FSMA rule, including those listed below.

  • Shippers, receivers or carriers engaged in food transportation operations that have less than $500,000 in average annual revenue
  • Transportation activities performed by a farm
  • Transportation of food that is transshipped through the United States to another country
  • Transportation of food that is imported for future export and that is neither consumed or distributed in the United States
  • Transportation of compressed food gases (e.g. carbon dioxide, nitrogen or oxygen authorized for use in food and beverage products) and food contact substances
  • Transportation of human food byproducts transported for use as animal food without further processing
  • Transportation of food that is completely enclosed by a container except a food that requires temperature control for safety
  • Transportation of live food animals, except molluscan shellfish

To view the FSMA rule in its entirety, browse the topical table of contents found in the Federal Register.

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