Today’s food shippers and freight operators are facing increasing challenges from both the government and consumers to improve the quality of food, the safety of food, and the transparency of the shipping process. Now, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is issuing changes to freight transportation that could impact a large number of shippers throughout the country. The changes, many organizations believe, could be highly expensive and difficult to put into place.

What Are the New Requirements?

Federal regulators from the Food and Drug Administration will now require food shippers to ensure their vehicles are properly cleaned and sanitized as well as refrigerated before taking off. The goal is to reduce the likelihood that food borne illness and disease will spread. The organization says that about one in six people in the United States is sickened by these illnesses each year. However, it also noted that the cause of these types of illnesses is infrequently the result of transportation-related matters. Nevertheless, the new laws will impact the way food shippers and freight companies operate going forward.

The rules create a best practices protocol for food shipped for both people and animal consumption. They also outline the best practices for cleaning of road and rail vehicles in between shipments. Additionally, they require specific steps to be taken to adequately refrigerate product. For example, a key area of concern is the cooling of refrigeration trucks. Now, the shippers and freight companies will need to ensure that trucks are properly cooled down before loading refrigerated product.

Shippers will have to take new measures to pre-cool trucks, but will also have to document temperatures throughout the shipping process more thoroughly. These records will need to show the steps taken to cool and maintain proper temperatures throughout the transportation process.

The move from the Food and Drug Administration stems in part to the growing demand from consumers and end users to know as much as possible about where food comes from as well as how it is taken care of and processed throughout the supply chain. Their scrutiny has included examination stations, where agents are cracking down on importers and freight forwarders who transport food and consumable goods. The more documentation and requirements put in place such as these best practices, the harder and more expensive the shipping process becomes.

These changes as a part of the Food Safety Modernization Act. This act is not new, but has been making changes since 2010 to the way in which food is managed throughout the supply chain. Many of the most recent outbreaks in food-borne illness have stemmed from food such as spinach, fruit, and peanut butter that could have occurred during transport.

The new rules will impact all businesses the ship food within the United States as well as those imports that are moved within the country. It impacts both rail and road transported products as well. Smaller companies will have two years from the rule’s publication to adhere to the rule while larger organizations will have one year to do so to remain in compliance.

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