Opinion: Three key takeaways from Sanitary Transportation of Food rule

April 07 , 2017

By C.H. Robinson global transportation director Mark Petersen and risk manager Chris McLaughlin (pictured)

Do you ship food? Or even perishable animal food? If so, the Sanitary Transportation of Food rule, which is a part of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and took effect on April 1, will likely affect you, as it will many others in the industry. 

We have received a variety of questions around this ruling and what shippers and carriers need to do to prepare. In this post, we will cover what you need to know.

First, take a moment to hear what Chris has to say about what this rule could mean for your business—and the industry overall—and what you should keep in mind.

Three key takeaways from the video:

  • Which products are subject to the rule? The rule applies to items that are shipped open to the air, temperature controlled for safety, or shipped in bulk trailers or tankers via truck or rail. The emphasis here is on food shipped for safety, not quality. Many people think produce is covered under the temperature controlled rule, but most produce is not – with a few exceptions, it’s more commonly only subject to the open container portion of the rule. This distinction is important, as the purpose is not to create undue burden or throw away product which is safe for human or animal consumption.
  • When does the rule go into effect? There are different implementation dates for small and large carriers and small and large shippers. However, most shippers expect all carriers and transportation providers, regardless of size, to fully comply with the rule by now. 
  • How does the Sanitary Transportation of Food rule connect to FSMA? The Sanitary Transportation of Food rule is only one rule of several under FSMA. Each of the rules stands on its own. The language, definitions, and applicability of each rule varies. You should take time to understand the scope of each rule. Especially if you’re in the produce world, you may find that your product is exempt from one rule, but included in another.

We want to reiterate that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stated this rule is not intended to impose significant new requirements in the industry – in fact, the industry is already completing steps within the rule. The rule is simply a restatement or formal recognition of industry best practices and the requirement to document these processes.

Impact on Produce Shipping

When it comes to the produce world, it’s important to think about the role each company plays in the movement of goods under this rule. Are you the one calling the shots for how the product is delivered? (Often, the person or organization determining needs is a retailer or wholesaler.) If you are the one tendering the load, you are considered the “shipper” under this rule and are responsible for defining specific obligations.

We’re Prepared

As Chris mentioned, we have a cross-divisional team in place at C.H. Robinson to implement practices that ensure compliance with the Sanitary Transportation of Food rule. Our employees will also have training around the ruling.

If you have any questions around the Sanitary Transportation of Food rule and the impact it could have on your shipping transactions or your business overall, please reach out to your Robinson Fresh or C.H. Robinson representative. You can also visit the U.S. FDA website to learn more.

This article originally appeared on Robinson Fresh’s blog, and has been approved for re-publication with some edits on our site. 

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