Every year, 3,000 people die from food born illness and one in six individuals will get sick from diseases such as Salmonella, E. Coli, or Listeria from food1. The process to bring food from the farm to your table is a long and extensive supply chain. Farmers/producers, suppliers, carriers, and receivers must take proper precautions in protecting the safety of consumers.
In 2011, President Obama signed the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), bringing food safety to the 21st century. Two more rules under FSMA have been approved and will arrive in the next few months including the FDA’s Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food Rule, which will directly impact shippers, carriers, and the transportation industry as a whole. Preparation and communication between shippers and their third party logistics providers will keep their supply chain away from costly and time-consuming waste claims.
What is FSMA?
The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) replaced a previous act from 1938. The new standards apply to food grown in the U.S. and food entering the U.S. from importers and the transportation and handling processes it takes to get from farm to table1. The act looks at areas of the process and shifts the FDA’s attention from detection and reaction to prevention5. Some companies are exempt from FSMA including food transportation operators with less than $500,000 in total annual revenue and transportation of shelf stable food, completely enclosed by a container3.
FDA’s Sanitary Transportation of Human & Animal Food Rule
The Sanitary Transportation Rule takes preventative measures with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) focusing on bulk food and food not completely enclosed by a container while guiding temperature, vehicle maintenance, and sanitation2.
Errors in temperature control in particular can be costly to a company. 70% of food consumed in the United States is shipped through cold chain and $4 billion worth of fruits and vegetables waste occurs each year during the distribution process5. Under FSMA, guidelines for “adulterated” food become increasingly important2. Shippers are responsible for indicating the temperature requirements to carriers and defining when food becomes inconsumable. For example, a cheese company specifies that their American cheese should ship at 31 degrees. However, fluctuation during transport causes the temperature to reach 32 degrees inside the trailer before returning to 31 degrees. The food may be perfectly safe since cheese can reach a temperature of 39 degrees, but since the shipper did not specify this, the food becomes “adulterated” and the product must be disposed 2. Disposing of product becomes costly for the shipper and supplier; however, an experienced refrigerated carrier can ensure temperature integrity.
Vehicle maintenance, sanitation, and driver education make up a large component as well. Vehicles and equipment should be designed in a way that guarantees the food transported in not contaminated2. Carriers must ensure sanitation after a load and provide documented proof of the entire process. It’s important to have a trusted transportation partner that will take all precautions in preparing their vehicles and equipment to safely and securely transport goods.
The entire supply chain becomes accountable with the new FSMA guidelines. Carriers can now be prosecuted for knowingly transporting contaminated food2 and the FDA has the ability to issue mandatory recalls and keep suspect food from being shipped1. Although there is not an exact date for the implementation of the Sanitary Transportation Rule, here are some steps for food suppliers and manufacturers to prepare.
Don’t wait to prepare for the Transportation and Sanitation Rule. Once in effect, companies will have one year for compliance. Diligence in following FSMA will reduce the risk of spreading food born illness and ensure the safe handling of food from farm to table. For more information, the FDA will host a webinar on April 25th. Click here for webinar details.