Carriers still have one week to post comments to the proposed new regulations affecting fleets involved in foodstuff transportation.
Back in January of this year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed a rule that would require certain shippers, receivers, and carriers who transport food to take steps to prevent the contamination of human and animal food during transportation. Among these steps would be properly refrigerating food, adequately cleaning vehicles between loads, and properly protecting food during transportation.
The FDA extended the period in which it will take comments from concerned parties to July 31, 2014…just one week away. Not covered in these proposed rules are carriers, shippers, and receivers who are engaged in food transportation operations but have less that $500,000 in total annual sales. Also free from the regulations are those who transport fully packaged shelf-stable foods, live food animals, and raw agricultural commodities when transported by farms. Some other companies are also exempt, including those that import food for future export, when that food is not sold or consumed here in the U.S.
When you look at the rulings including cleaning the vehicles and proper refrigeration, the reality for the industry is that they may not be that much of an imposition. That’s because, according to Rick Schweitzer, general counsel for the National Private Truck Council (NPTC), the rule is essentially what the industry is already doing. A June FleetOwner article quotes Schweitzer in a speech to the NPTC convention, “I am very confident that carriers in this room already meet or exceed these standards.”
What’s significant about this ruling is that it’s not just the carriers that are held responsible; so are the shippers and receivers, and that puts additional burdens on all concerned. That’s because the FDA, at this point, has neither the experience in trucking nor resources to deal with all involved, so enforcement may be problematic.
Those industries that will be affected should voice their concerns or insights before the comment period is closed.