The food and beverage industry is facing a number of rules and regulations whose impact will be significant this year. Mostly, they are geared towards promoting greater food safety from farm to fork, along with enhancing sustainability throughout the trucking and aviation sectors.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 48 million Americans fall ill each year to foodborne diseases like Salmonella and Listeria bacteria. With the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) starting to gain momentum, the U.S. will be moving from reacting to foodborne illness outbreaks to preventing them.
On January 4, 2013, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) introduced two major components to the FSMA called the Preventative Controls rule and the Produce rule. In short, the proposed Preventative Controls rule will require food facilities to have a written food safety plan that identifies and implements preventative controls. The written food safety plan must also identify biological, chemical or physical hazards.
But does this apply to food shippers?
The proposed Preventative Controls rule applies to those that are registered as a food facility or facilities that manufacture, process, pack or hold food. Members of the transportation industry are advised to work closely with the food facilities that they haul for to better recognize shipping risks, such as sanitizing transportation equipment and proper temperature controls.
“The FDA is taking a full risk-based approach to food safety and they’re looking at the entire supply chain,” notes Dr. Bob Whitaker, chief scientific officer of the Newark, Delaware-based Produce Marketing Association (PMA). “I think it’s hard to predict right now how much it’ll affect transportation, but clearly the owners and operators of these businesses that are preparing and manufacturing food have a responsibility to do risk assessments, hazard analysis and risk preventative controls.”
Meanwhile, the proposed Produce rule will require farms to develop standards that minimize the risk of health hazards and take actions to prevent foreseeable hazards from occurring. This regulation will apply to farms that grow produce domestically; produce that is imported into the U.S.; and companies that harvest, pack or hold produce.
Currently, both the Preventative Controls rule and the Produce rule are proposals and have no legal effect on the transportation industry until the finalized regulations are published. The FDA is allowing the public to comment on the proposed rules until Thursday, May 16, 2013. After the comment period is over, the FDA will make modifications in accordance with the feedback from the industry. Additional proposed rules such as the Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP), Accreditation of Third Party Auditors, and initiatives surrounding traceability are expected to be released next.
“The next set of regulations to be rolled out will include more responsibility for importers,” says Mike Rozembajgier, vice president of recalls for Indianapolis, Indiana-based Stericycle ExpertRECALL. “International food companies would be smart to establish relationships with venders who ensure that they’ve got product retrieval process that can run efficiently in the event of a problem.”
Although the new components to the FSMA have yet to become effective, there are ways shippers of perishable foods can prepare for compliance while reducing shrink.
Preparing for FSMA
The FSMA promises to impact shippers in various ways, from making sure the insides of trailers are sanitized to having the ability to efficiently track the loads that have been transported by the trailers. Utilizing the right technologies can help assurance businesses of compliance.
Santa Clara, California-based Intelleflex provides radio frequency identification (RFID) temperature tags to address traceability and regulatory requirements for the transportation sector.