Get ready. As of April 6, new food safety rules set forth by the FDA will be put into effect for fleet food delivery. Enforcement is set to begin immediately. The rule specifically falls under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
This act, passed in 2011, was put forth in response to an outbreak of listeria and salmonella at food manufacturing and processing plants. Fortunately, we’ve got the latest on what you need to do to ensure you stay in compliance with the new regulations.
Specifically, the new rule requires those involved with the transportation of human and animal food – be it shippers, carriers or receivers – to follow a specific set of practices to ensure sanitary transportation. Whether it be properly refrigerating food, thoroughly cleaning vehicles or ensuring excellent protection for food in transit, the rules are changing and your fleet needs to be ready.
There are some exceptions to who needs to comply, based on specific dates. Those that meet the following criteria have until April 6 of 2018 to comply with the new regulations:
- Small businesses other than motor carriers that are not also shippers and/or receivers.
- Businesses that employ fewer than 500 persons.
- Motor carriers who have less than $27.5 million in annual receipts.
The Rule Details
The rule details focus on a requirement for ensuring food is properly refrigerated. Vehicles and equipment that is not properly cleaned and sanitized are also addressed. What the rule does not do is address more specific components of food security, from seals and locks to transport security.
While there has been some industry hand-wringing where rule flexibility is concerned, there are important ways in which carriers can ensure they comply with the final rule.
In addition to clarifying protective measures designed to keep food from cross-contaminating, the FDA will provide specific web-based training seminars to help fleets better comply with the rule changes.
This is why it is important that everyone from operators to managers and dispatchers are well aware of what’s required in the rule. It’s important they keep tabs on temperatures, planning ahead and route specifics and schedules.
Here are specifics on what each individual employee should consider when keeping proper food safety in mind.
Are your planners paying attention to the food coming in and what equipment is required to keep it at the appropriate temperature? Furthermore, it’s important that the operator is experienced in working with such equipment.
Also, does a trailer need to be washed prior to loading. You’ll want to make sure the truck driver knows what the pickup timeframe is and plans enough time to wash it out.
Ensure your dispatchers are properly communicating instructions to truck drivers. They must also confirm loaded set/box temperatures and double check refrigeration settings against the required range.
While the load is in transit, it is vitally important to monitor temperature readings. If there are any discrepancies, the truck driver needs to make sure they immediately notify dispatch and that dispatch is staying on top of it.
Although this is important anyway, food transportation makes pre-trip inspections even more vital. Reefer units must be properly checked. From the air chute to door seals, the trailer condition must be paid close attention to.
It is important to check for extra condensation and any obvious leaks. Box temperature must be checked at least every few hours or whenever the vehicle is stopped for a prolonged period of time.
Finally, it is critical that your fleet technicians are paying close attention to preventative maintenance. Old equipment must be repaired or replaced before food becomes potentially contaminated. Keep the FSMA from negatively impacting your fleet scores by keeping these essential tips in mind!