The FSMA (Food Safety Modernization Act) is a pretty intense read. While it may be a confusing mess to wade through, it’s imperative you understand exactly what has changed, and how it affects you and your business. Let’s break it down and find out what you really need to know.
Who is Affected?For all intents and purposes, the FSMA affects any shippers, loaders, carriers or receivers transporting (by both vehicle or train) or otherwise handling food intended to be eaten by humans or animals within the United States.
Note: If the food is simply traveling through the U.S. to another destination, the new regulations will not apply.
What’s Required for Each Party?– Shippers are now required to provide to the carriers, in writing, the exact food safety requirements needed for safe transportation of their product. This extends to the type of equipment that is required as well special training associated with the transport of the product.
– Carriers are required to provide documentation upon request that details the trailer temperatures during every leg of transport. With many carriers moving to telematics devices that store data in the cloud, shippers are looking to receive this information real time. Carriers will also be required to show proper maintenance and cleanliness of trailers and equipment to ensure food safety.
– Freight Brokers, you aren’t off the hook. According to the FSMA rules, you are held responsible for the compliance of the carriers you work with. If you broker a move with a carrier that is not able to provide the necessary information upon request or is unable to meet the specific requirements of the shipper, your company can be held responsible.
– All parties must keep all written records of shipments and/or written agreements that fall under the FSMA guidelines for at least 12 months after the conclusion of the agreement.
– All parties must be prepared to show proper measures taken to prevent cross contamination of food. This includes but is not limited to raw food not coming into contact with prepared food or the introduction of allergens or chemicals that could contaminate the food.
– While all parties have a role to play in the training of proper food handling along the supply chain, the carriers have the additional responsibility of being able to produce documentation that all personnel was trained in sanitary transportation practices.
Note: The only caveat here is if the shipper does not agree that the carrier is responsible for sanitary conditions during transport.
Who Doesn’t Have To Comply?Given that the food and beverage industry is so heavily regulated as it is, the new provisions do make a few allowances.
These waivers are mainly for businesses who are already subject to State, Federal or local controls.
– Businesses in the milk industry who already have permits and are inspected by the National Conference on Interstate Milk Shipments.
– Businesses that are already certified and inspected by the Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference’s National Shellfish Sanitation Program.
– Businesses that are authorized to provide food directly to consumers. This can be restaurants, non-profit establishments or other food retailers.
Other waivers and exemptions include:
– Transportation of live animals that are intended for food.
– Transportation of human food by-product that will be used as food for animals and doesn’t require any further processing.
– Activities associated with food transportation on a farm.
– Shippers, carriers, and receivers in the industry of food transportation but do not have more that $500,000 in annual revenue on average.
– Food that is being transported through the United States but will be consumed in another country.
– Food that is imported to the United States for future export and will not be consumed or distributed in the U.S.
– Compressed food gases, such as nitrogen or carbon dioxide, that will be used in food or beverages.
– Food that is completely enclosed in a container and does not require temperature controls for safety.
Now, it’s important to note the deadline for compliance has passed (April 6, 2017). But, if you are considered a small business with 500 or fewer employees, or a carrier that does less than $27.5 million annually, you have until April 6, 2018, to comply.
If you have more specific questions, check out the FDA’s page on frequently asked questions regarding the FSMA.