Food safety is an often reported on topic in the transportation industry. There are countless articles regarding recalls of fresh produce throughout North America. As such, each industry stakeholder and member of the cold chain needs to make sure that they are complying with sanitation regulations to ensure food safety. Therefore, truck drivers have an obligation with regards to sanitation when they are transporting fresh produce.

Enter the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The purpose of this FDA Rule is to protect foods from farm to table by keeping them safe from contamination during transportation. The section of the FSMA that applies to produce transportation is called the Rule on Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food. So, let’s explore a some key FSMA facts, who the Rule applies to and who is exempt, and what the requirements are for truck drivers.

The FSMA Rule on Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food – key facts

The FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Rule on Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food is one of 7 foundational Rules proposed since January 2013 to create a modern, risk-based framework for food safety in the United States. The goal of this Rule is to prevent practices during transportation that create food safety risks; these could be practices such as failure to properly refrigerate food, inadequate cleaning of vehicles between loads, and failure to properly protect food. The Rule was signed into law on January 4, 2011.

Due to numerous reports of illness outbreaks resulting from human and animal food contaminated during transportation and incidents of unsanitary transportation practices, there have long been concerns about the need for regulations to ensure that foods are being transported in a safe and sanitary manner.

Who Does the FSMA Rule on Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food apply to?

The Rule applies to shippers, loaders, carriers by motor or rail vehicle, and receivers involved in transporting human and animal food in the United States. In addition, it applies regardless of if the food is offered for or enters interstate commerce.

This FSMA Rule also applies to shipper in other countries who ship food to the United States directly by motor or rail; the two major countries this applies to are of course Canada and Mexico.

And finally, the Rule applies to other countries who transport food to the United states by ship or air, where the transfer of an intact container goes onto a motor or rail vehicle for transportation and final consumption within the US.

Who is exempt?

The following types of companies are exempt from the Food Safety Modernization Act Rule on Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food:

  • Shippers, receivers, or carriers engaged in food transportation operations that have less than $500,000 in average annual revenue.
  • Transportation activities performed by a farm.
  • Transportation of food that is transshipped through the United States to another country (i.e., where the US is only an intermediate destination).
  • Transportation of food that is imported for future export and that is neither consumed or distributed in the United States.
  • Transportation of human food by-products transported for use as animal food without further processing.
  • Transportation of food that is completely enclosed by a container except a food that requires temperature control for safety.
  • Transportation of live food animals, except molluscan shellfish.
  • Transportation of compressed food gases (e.g. carbon dioxide, nitrogen or oxygen authorized for use in food and beverage products), and food contact substances.

Requirements for Truck Drivers

  • Equipment: All vehicles and transportation equipment must be suitable and adequately cleaned for their intended use. In addition, the equipment must be capable of maintaining temperatures necessary for the safe transport of food. if you need a refresher on the condition requirements that are specific to trailers, check out our blog post on the topic: Trailer Condition Requirements. This post reviews cleaning and sanitation, and trailer maintenance.
  • Operations: The measures taken during transportation to ensure food safety, such as adequate temperature controls, preventing contamination of ready to eat food from touching raw food, protection of food from contamination by non-food items in the same load or previous load, and protection of food from cross-contact, i.e., the unintentional incorporation of a food allergen. A common request from shippers/loaders is that a trailer is “washed out” prior to loading their product; this is a request that prevents contamination from a previous load.
  • Training: Training of carrier personnel in sanitary transportation practices and documentation of the training. Carriers covered by the Rule are required to provide food safety training to transportation operations personnel when the carrier and shipper agree that the carrier is responsible for sanitary conditions during transport. The FDA has a free training module that is specifically designed for Carriers who are covered by the Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food Rule under the FSMA. Click here to access the FDA Training Module.
  • Records: Maintenance of records of written procedures, agreements and training (required of carriers). There records must be stored for a required amount of time, and the general Rule is to keep all for approximately 12 months.

If you need more information on the overall ruling of the Food Safety Modernization Act, visit the FDA’s website. If you are looking for information specific to the Rule on Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food, check out the FDA’s 4-page publication for all the details.

What Truck Drivers Need to Know about Sanitation when Transporting Fresh Produce was last modified: by