The Food and Drug Administration's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition and Center for Veterinary Medicine released in late April an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking for implementing the Sanitary Food Transportation Act of 2005. The notice is the first step in writing federal regulations that will govern sanitary practices by shippers, carriers using motor or rail vehicles, receivers and others transporting food products for humans and animals.
The 2005 act gives FDA broad authority to regulate food transportation to protect products from food-safety hazards during shipment. The notice is part of FDA's current focus on farm-to-table prevention of food safety hazards, which was a primary recommendation made this month by the federal Food Safety Working Group in its report to President Obama.
"Although FDA has had the authority to cover the transport of food products, the agency didn't see it as a priority until recently," said Allen Sayler, IDFA vice president of regulatory affairs and international standards. "This new focus will change FDA's approach on transportation from reactive to proactive."
Areas of Concern
In the Federal Register notice, FDA identified 15 areas of concern that could affect the safe transport of food products and asked shippers to focus their efforts specifically on these five:
- temperature control during transport;
- packaging of food products;
- communications among parties involved in transportation process; and
- employee awareness and training.
FDA is seeking input on its recommendations, which are listed in full in the Federal Register notice, along with a series of questions related to:
- vehicles used for transportation,
- current practices,
- shipment of foods with non-food items,
- possible reasons for waivers,
- local requirements and federal preemption,
- risks for foodborne illness associated with transportation and
- benefits and costs.
The agency will accept comments through August 30. After evaluating the comments, FDA will coordinate with the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Transportation in the rulemaking process and propose specific regulations to implement the statute. IDFA plans to work with members during the summer to develop and submit comments.
Also in April, FDA issued "Guidance to the Industry on the Sanitary Transportation of Food." The guidance is designed to provide interim recommendations for keeping food safe during transport while the agency proceeds with developing regulatory requirements.
More information about the proposed rule and guidance, as well as instructions on submitting comments is available here.
Members with questions may contact Sayler at email@example.com or (202) 220-3544.