If there’s one thing that’s crucial to the supply chain, it’s collaboration—and its importance only intensifies during times of change.
Signed into law by President Obama in 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is the most sweeping reform to our food safety laws in more than 70 years. Designed to ensure the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, the FSMA is strengthening regulations affecting how food is grown, harvested, packed, stored and transported from farm to fork. In the process, it also underscores the need for partnership and education among supply chain players—at all levels of employment—about compliance.
In April 2016, the FDA released the final rule on Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food, which, within one to two years, requires anyone involved in the transportation of food products by motor or rail carrier to follow recognized best practices for safe and sanitary transportation.
Meeting these new requirements has been a top priority for manufacturers and their third-party logistics providers (3PL). Yet, more than one year later, on average, one in five outside truckers arrive at our facility, often unknowingly, in violation of FSMA standards that all trailers be clean, dry, odor-free and in good working condition.
A Call for Communication
While this FSMA rule is relatively new, the importance of sanitary food transportation and regulation governing it is hardly so. In fact, some 3PLs were already well ahead of this new standard, including those that have earned the highest designation, the Safe Quality Food (SQF) certification.
Across the board, we have seen major improvements in compliance over the past year. However, without full cooperation from every partner in the supply chain, we have also seen first-hand what a drain noncompliance can be on the system.
For example, smaller outside transportation companies may not be mandated to meet new regulations for another nine months according to the FDA, but they must be met to deliver goods to storage and distribution facilities that are already operating according to the rule. Every time we turn away a truck to fix FSMA violations before we can accept delivery, we all feel the ripple effect of the extra time and effort that could have been avoided. Compliance and safety don’t need to come at the sacrifice of efficiency—if we’re all on the same page.
Jamie Overley is CEO of East Coast Warehouse & Distribution, a preeminent 4PL leader offering integrated temperature-controlled logistics services to food and beverage importers. For more information, please visit www.eastcoastwarehouse.com.