U.S. federal regulators are preparing to clamp down on those in the food supply chain ranging from shippers to truckers who do not comply with the federal government’s new food transportation safety rule coming in April.
The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law by President Barack Obama on January 4, 2011. It aims to ensure the U.S. food supply, from the way it is grown, harvested and processed, to ensure it is safe by shifting the focus of federal regulators from responding to contamination to preventing it.
Many businesses have been slow to prepare for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s regulation on the sanitary transportation of human and animal food, implemented in response to the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act. Some industry experts see the transportation industry as being pretty clueless about the rules. Tough talk has been coming from those who are to enforce the new act.
The law was prompted after many reported incidents of foodborne illnesses during the first decade of the 2000s. Tainted food has cost the food industry billions of dollars in recalls, lost sales and legal expenses.
This bill is similar to the Food Safety Enhancement Act which passed the House in 2009. It is considered the first major piece of federal legislation addressing food safety since 1938. ] It is also the first piece of legislation to address intentional adulteration.
The changes are expected force shippers and carriers to have some serious talks involving new contracts or adjusting tweaks to existing agreements.
The new act will effect everything from the loading dock to the receiver’s dock and will need to document procedures, processes, training and records.
Transport Topics recently quoted Leonard “Bud” Rodowick, an executive at transport refrigeration unit supplier Thermo King Corp as saying, “It’s government on steroids.” Indeed, the scope of the new rule is broad, requiring shippers, carriers, brokers, receivers and loaders to hone their best sanitary food transportation practices. The 283-page rule places the primary burden on shippers and manufacturers to ensure that the proper written procedures and data collection are in place to keep food properly cooled and trailers cleaned between loads.
However, it also requires carriers to make good on their promises to shippers. The new FDA requirements are part of the federal government’s larger effort to prevent food safety problems, rather than reacting to crises when food becomes contaminated.