WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has proposed a rule that would require certain shippers, receivers and carriers who transport food by motor or rail vehicles to take steps to prevent the contamination of food during transit.
The proposed rule marks the seventh and final major rule in the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, aimed at systematically building preventive measures across the food system. It is open for public comment through May 31.
The proposed regulation would establish criteria for sanitary transportation practices, such as properly refrigerating food, adequately cleaning vehicles between loads and properly protecting food during transportation.
For example, the proposal would require that shippers inspect a vehicle for cleanliness prior to loading food that is not completely enclosed by its container, such as fresh produce in vented boxes, onto the vehicle. The rule would also apply to international shippers who transport food for U.S. consumption or distribution in an international freight container by air or by oceangoing vessel and arrange for the transfer of the intact container onto a motor vehicle or rail car in the United States.
The proposed rule would apply to shippers, carriers and receivers who transport food that will be consumed or distributed in the United States.
Exempt from the regulation would be shippers, receivers or carriers engaged in food transportation operations that have less than $500,000 in total annual sales. In addition, the proposal's requirements would not apply to the transportation of fully packaged shelf-stable foods, live food animals, and raw agricultural commodities when transported by farms.
The requirements would also not apply to shippers, receivers or carriers engaged in transportation operations of food that is transshipped through the U.S. to another country, nor to food that is imported for future export and that is neither consumed nor distributed in the U.S.
The FDA is proposing staggered implementation dates for the proposed rule based on business size, ranging from one to two years after its publication.
The agency will discuss the proposed rule at three upcoming public meetings: Feb. 27, in Chicago; March 13, in Anaheim, CA, and March 20 in College Park, MD.