Numerous new mandates for refrigerated carriers governing not only the condition and operation of equipment used transport foodstuffs but the capture and preservation of shipment temperatures, along with driver training requirements, These are due to become effective March 31.
The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) has new rules approved by Congress and signed into law by the president in 2011.
The mandate requires the FDA [the U.S. Food and Drug Administration] to be an enforcement agency in the food supply chain. Violations of the mandate can lead to criminal prosecution.
While shippers and receivers are primary targets of the FSMA, refrigerated carriers become involved as the new rules require detailed temperature data to be collected and maintained, while imposing equipment and driving requirements as well.
There are three main broad areas where refrigerated truckers can be affected:
(1) They would be required to develop and implement written procedures – subject to record keeping, probably for a 12 month time period – that describes how they provide temperature data;
(2) Their practices for cleaning, sanitizing, and inspecting vehicles and transportation equipment;
(3) and establish requirements for the training of carrier personnel engaged in transportation operations, including a requirement for records that document the training.
While the FDA will not be telling shippers and carriers how to deliver foodstuffs, it will be in charge of establishing the framework for what’s required to deliver such goods and enforce those requirements. Thus, the FDA now becomes an integrated part of the supply chain. In effect, the FDA will become an enforcement agency – and one of their tools will be criminal prosecution.
Refrigerated fleets will feel specific impacts in several key areas of their operations:
- It will affect trailer designs, depending on shipper requirements resulting from the new rules;
- It will tighten sanitary cleaning requirements of said trailers;
- There will be a “pre-cool” requirement for many shipments;
- Temperature tracking will be mandated;
- Data exchange and retention will be mandated;
- Driver food safety training will be required and a record of that training must be kept on file for access upon request.