The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has proposed a rule that would require certain shippers, receivers, and carriers who transport food by truck and rail for either human or animal consumption to take certain steps to prevent contamination.
As part of the implementation of the 2005 Sanitary Food Transportation Act, the proposal marks the seventh and final significant rule in the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act’s central framework aimed at building preventive measures across the food system. The latest proposed rule on sanitary transport
is open for public comment through May 31.
“This proposed rule will help reduce the likelihood of conditions during transportation that can lead to human or animal illness or injury,” said Michael R. Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, in a statement. “We are now one step closer to fully implementing the comprehensive regulatory framework for prevention that will strengthen the FDA’s inspection and compliance tools, modernize oversight of the nation’s food safety system, and prevent foodborne illnesses before they happen.”
FDA said the rule is intended to ensure that persons engaged in the transportation of food follow appropriate sanitary practices. For example, it would require shippers to inspect a truck or railcar for cleanliness prior to loading food that is not completely enclosed by its container, such as fresh produce in vented boxes. The proposed rule would also apply to international shippers that transport food for U.S. consumption or distribution in an air cargo or maritime container and arrange for the transfer of the intact container onto a truck or railcar for delivery in the United States.
The agency said its proposed rule would not cover food shippers, receivers, or carriers engaged that have less than $500,000 in total annual sales. In addition, the requirements would not apply to the transportation of fully packaged shelf-stable foods, live food animals, and raw agricultural commodities when transported by farms.
In addition, the requirements would not apply to companies that are engaged in transport of food that’s transshipped through the United States to another country, nor to food that’s imported for future export and neither consumed nor distributed in the United States.
FDA plans to stagger the implementation dates for the proposed rule based on business size, ranging from one to two years after publication of the final rule.
The agency will discuss the proposed sanitary transport rule at three public meetings: Feb. 27 in Chicago; March 13 in Anaheim, Calif.; and March 20 at College Park, Md.