The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) will begin to be enforced this September. Will your fleet and your drivers be ready?
There’s a famous saying, “You are what you eat.” The question is who is responsible for the food you eat? It turns out, a lot more people than you might have thought, especially after September when the Food Safety Modernization Act becomes enforceable. In fact, it affects every enterprise in the supply chain. For those in our industry who transport bulk food products, this just compounds other issues we’re already facing: HOS, driver shortages, ELD mandates, etc.
Since the bill, the most sweeping regulations reform of food safety laws in 70 years, was first signed into effect in 2011, it’s been all about getting ready for the enforcement which will begin in the fall. The piece of this Act that will affect us the most is the Sanitary Food Transport Act (SFTA) which is the key regulation regarding the transportation of human and animal food. This regulation touches anyone in transportation that comes into contact with the food, including the drivers.
Now, in addition to worrying about making their destination on time, drivers also have specific requirements regarding sanitary behavior (washing their hands if they touch the food; wearing a hairnet or beard net; possible, even possibly putting on a gown when loading or unloading certain products. Carriers will be held responsible for training their drivers to adhere to these regulations.
Carriers are also going to have to take a long and critical look at their vehicles. The rules are very strict when it comes to cleanliness and temperature control and tracking. When it comes to refrigerated products, every storage compartment must be pre-cooled and have a temperature monitoring device. Carriers must decide if their reefer units are able to maintain a certain temperature or if they somehow expose the load to environmental hazards. It may necessitate modernizing existing assets or purchasing newer ones.
Technology will definitely help; telematics will enable carriers to monitor temperature quality throughout the journey as the product is being shipped from one place to another. They will have to be very diligent because receivers and shippers can demand the carrier provide a log of those temperature conditions for the duration of the transportation. But, with this information digitized, carriers will at least be able to comply with the federal requirement that all records be maintained for a period of twelve months.
One of the unknowns, and one that probably keeps each person in the supply chain up at night, is the reality that many, many individuals “touch” the product throughout its journey…from farm to packaging to transporting and on to the store shelves. At any point on this journey, something negative can happen. Figuring out who might be responsible could impact a range of companies in the supply chain, including the carriers.
It’s enough to give anyone a bad case of indigestion.
What is your company doing to ensure compliance before September of this year?