The Food and Drug Administration has finalized six of the seven major rules that implement the core of Food Safety Modernization Act. (See previous posts here and here.) Finalized on April 5, 2016, the Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food rule builds on the previous five rules: (1) preventive controls rules for human food; (2) preventative controls rules for animal food; (3) Produce Safety rule; (4) Foreign Supplier Verification program rule; and (5) Accreditation of Third-Party Certification rule. The seventh rule will focus on mitigation strategies to protect food against international adulteration and is expected to be finalized later this year.

The new rule aims to prevent food contamination during transportation by building on the transportation industry’s best practices for cleaning, inspecting, maintaining, loading and unloading and operating vehicles and transportation equipment.

With some exceptions, the final rule applies to shippers, receivers, loaders and carriers who transport food for both people and animals in the United States by motor or rail vehicle, whether or not the food is offered for or enters interstate commerce. So companies that transport food intended for export are covered by the rule until the shipment reaches a port or U.S. border.

Some key points of the final rule:

  • Vehicles and transportation equipment must be suitable and adequately cleanable for their intended use and must be capable of maintaining safe temperatures for transport of food.
  • Measures must be taken during transportation to ensure adequate temperature controls, prevent cross contamination between ready to eat and raw food, provide protection of food from non-food items, and provide protection of contact from food allergens.
  • Documentation required of training of carrier personnel in sanitary transportation practices if carrier and shipper have an agreement that carrier is responsible for sanitary conditions during transport.
  • Records must be kept of all written procedures, agreements and training of carriers. Record retention is not to exceed 12 months.

Businesses must comply one year after the publication of the final rule, i.e. by April 6, 2017. Businesses other than motor carriers who are not also shippers and/or receivers employing fewer than 500 persons and motor carriers having less than $27.5 million in annual receipts have two years to comply.

Heads up, the FDA is going to be hosting a webinar on April 25, 2016 for those interested in more information on the Final Rule on Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food. Information available here.