April 6 was the deadline for trucking companies to comply with the training provision of the FDA’s Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food rule. As part of the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), carriers responsible for sanitary conditions during food transportation must train their drivers to deal with potential food safety problems. They also need to ensure drivers are trained on basic sanitary practices and the responsibilities for motor carriers that fall under the rule. With some exceptions, the final rule applies to shippers, receivers, loaders and carriers who transport food in the U.S. by motor or rail vehicle, whether or not the food is offered for or enters interstate commerce. It also applies to persons, e.g., shippers, in other countries that ship food to the United States directly by motor or rail vehicle (from Canada or Mexico), or by ship or air, and arrange for the transfer of the intact container onto a motor or rail vehicle for transportation within the U.S., if that food will be consumed or distributed in the United States.
“The objective is to prevent food from becoming unsafe by ensuring that it is properly refrigerated, that vehicles and trailers are properly cleaned and sanitized, pallets are sanitary and food is properly protected and stored at correct temperatures during transport,” said Jon Samson, executive director of the American Trucking Associations’ Agricultural and Food Transporters Conference.
As of this publication, however, the federal agency has not finalized or posted its one-hour web-based course. Meanwhile trucking companies with revenues of more than $500,000 had to comply with the April 6 deadline to have their drivers trained, according to Trucks.com. To address this, the regulation permits transportation companies to develop their own training modules or wait until the FDA makes available its online training tool.
Smaller trucking companies, those with less than $500,000 in revenue, have an additional year to comply.
In addition to the training provision the rule establishes the following requirements for:
- The design and maintenance of vehicles and transportation equipment to ensure that it does not cause the food that it transports to become unsafe. For example, equipment must be suitable and adequately cleaned for their intended use and capable of maintaining temperatures necessary for the safe transport of food.
- 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.
- Maintenance of records of written procedures, agreements and training (required of carriers). The required retention time for these records depends upon the type of record and when the covered activity occurred, but does not exceed 12 months.
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