The Food Safety Modernization Act: 3 Things You Need to Know

Posted - March 4, 2016

The Food Safety Modernization Act: 3 Things You Need to Know

By: Pamela Johnston, Esq., Vice President, Legal and Risk

In 2005, The Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act was amended to require the FDA to propose rules that would obligate those who transport food to use sanitary transportation practices to ensure food safety. The proposed rules, called the Sanitary Transport of Human and Animal Food (STHAF) Rules, were published under the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act on February 5, 2014.

The STHAF Rules establish criteria that will apply in determining whether food will be deemed adulterated because it has been transported or offered for transport by a shipper, carrier by motor or rail vehicle, or receiver engaged in the transportation of food under conditions that are not in compliance with the sanitary food transportation regulations.

In light of these new regulations, shippers will have to give carriers a considerable amount of additional information regarding the transport of food, and there are a number of things that are critical for both parties to know.

To whom do the STHAF Rules apply?

  • Shippers and receivers.
  • Motor and rail carriers.
  • A 3PL or warehouseman may also be considered a “shipper,” which is defined as “a person who initiates a shipment of food by motor vehicle or rail vehicle.”
  • The rules don’t apply to those transshipping through the U.S. or imported for future export.
  • There is a carved-out exception for carriers and shippers with less than $500,000 total annual sales.

What cargo is covered?

  • FDA-regulated human food including raw materials and ingredients.
  • Animal food.
  • USDA-regulated meat, poultry and egg products.
  • Foods that are fully packaged and require temperature control for safety or major quality (spoilage).
  • Foods that are fully packaged and shelf stable are not included, nor are live food animals and raw agricultural commodities when transported by farms.

What are the new duties of shippers and carriers with the regulations?

  • Shippers will be required to specify to the carrier in writing, their sanitary requirements, such as required temperature.
  • Shippers must inspect trailers for cleanliness and confirm sanitation and temperatures.
  • Shippers must abide by recordkeeping requirements.
  • Carriers must show shippers that they have maintained appropriate temperature control during transport for food subject to temperature control requirements.
  • Carriers will also have to provide shippers information about 3 previous cargos hauled in bulk vehicles and the intervening cleaning of those vehicles.
  • Competent supervisory personnel with documentation training must be present to ensure compliance.
  • Shippers and receivers must provide “convenient” hand washing facilities for drivers handling food not completely enclosed by a container.

The publish date for the STHAF Rules is March 31st, and they will be effective 60 days after that. Small businesses that are not also shippers or receivers with less than 500 employees, as well as motor carriers with less than $25.5 million in annual receipts, will have 2 years to comply. All other businesses will have 1 year to comply once the final rule is published.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this post, which discusses liability for loss and damage to food goods under the Carmack Amendment.

How are these new food safety rules affecting your organization?