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Standards To Be Followed by
Food Service Distributors & Transportation Companies

The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is passed in response to outbreaks of listeria and salmonella mainly emanating from the manufacturing, processing, and handling of food by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

During the recent Spireon webinar Job Samson, executive director of the agricultural and food transporters conference for the American Trucking Association broke down FSMA for the carriers to comply with newly laid rules and regulations.

In April 2016, the FDA finalized the new food safety rule to prevent food contamination during transportation. The rule is essential for all the freight shipping services providers, loaders, carriers, and receivers who are involved in the transportation of human and animal food. The FSMA requires the accordance of best safety practices for sanitary transportation, such as appropriately refrigerating food, adequately cleaning vehicles between loads, and properly protecting food during transportation. But the rule does not specifically address food security, such as seals and locks.

Exemptions From FSMA Compliance Rule

  • The shippers, receivers, or carriers who are engaged in food transportation operations that have less than $500,000 in average annual revenue.
  • The transportation activities performed by the farm.
  • The transhipping of food from the United States to another country.
  • The transportation of food that is imported for future export and that is neither consumed nor distributed in the United States.
  • The transportation of compressed food gases (e.g., carbon dioxide, nitrogen, or oxygen authorized for use in food and beverage products), and food contact substances.
  • The transportation of byproducts of human food which is transported for use as animal food without further processing.
  • The transportation of food that is completely enclosed by a container except for the food which is temperature controlled for safety.
  • The transportation of live food animals, except molluscan shellfish.

Vehicles And Transportation Equipment To Comply

  • Designed and made from material that can be properly cleaned and sanitized.
  • There must be adequate maintenance in sanitary conditions where the food will never become unsafe. For instance, if there are broken pallets that could puncture the products and should not be allowed in trailers.
  • The food must be stored in a manner to prevent pests or contamination which could result in the food becoming unsafe.
  • Therefore, for time and temperature-controlled food (TCS food), the equipment must be maintained, designed, and equipped for providing adequate control of temperature.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggests protective measures must be taken for the protection of food from cross-contamination by raw and non-food items.

The managers and dispatchers should get the necessary information out to the drivers, by keeping tabs on temperatures and planning for more.

For the Planners:

  • Paying more attention to what is inbound and what equipment is needed.
  • Checking whether the trailer is washed prior to loading.
  • Letting drivers know about the timeframe of pickup and planning enough time for washing out
  • Monitoring dropped load temperature controls.

For the Dispatchers:

  • Communication of instructions with the drivers.
  • Confirmation loaded set/box temperatures as sent from the driver which double check setting vs temperature range.
  • Monitoring temperature readings while the load is in the transit phase and eliminating all the discrepancies.
  • Notifying inbound planners by making sure that they are aware of what is inbound and what to expect.
  • Monitoring the integrity of the seal and making sure the seal numbers are entered into the loaded and stop empty calls.

For the Drivers:

  • Conduct pre-trip inspections, which include reefer units as well.
  • Checking the condition of the trailer - air chute and door seals.
  • Adequate training for reefer unit operations.
  • Inspection of products prior to loading.
  • Checking for extra condensation and leaking.
  • If there is an extended amount of time for loading and unloading, the dispatch must be notified.
  • Checking the reefer tank fuel levels and additives.
  • Checking the box temperature every four hours when stopped.