The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently proposed a rule that would require certain shippers, receivers, and carriers that transport food by motor or rail vehicles to take steps to prevent contamination of human and animal food during transportation.
Part of the implementation of the Sanitary Food Transportation Act of 2005, the proposal marks the seventh and final major rule in the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act’s (FSMA) central framework aimed at systematically building preventive measures across the food system.
The proposed rule is open for public comment through May 31, 2014.
“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.
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.
It would apply to shippers, carriers, and receivers that transport food that will be consumed or distributed in the United States and is intended to ensure that persons engaged in transportation of food at the greatest risk for contamination during transportation follow appropriate sanitary 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, such as fresh produce in vented boxes, onto the vehicle. The proposed rule would also apply to international shippers transporting food for US 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, it would not apply to transportation of fully packaged shelf-stable foods, live food animals, and raw agricultural commodities when transported by farms. Requirements would also not apply to shippers, receivers, or carriers engaged in transportation operations of food that is trans-shipped through the United States to another nation, nor to food imported for future export and that is neither consumed nor distributed in the United States.
The agency 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.
The FDA will discuss the proposed rule at these upcoming public meetings: March 13, 2014 in Anaheim CA; and March 20, 2014 in College Park MD.
For more information, go to www.fda.gov.