Overview of Food Safety Modernization Act
August 5, 2016
Author: Allison Kluesner
The Food Safety Modernization Act, commonly referred to as FSMA, has a large affect on the trucking industry and should be examined carefully. Although it was signed into law on January 4, 2011, it has just gone into effect on April 6, 2016. This act affects many aspects of the food industry, like the soil that food is grown in, how the food is harvested, and how food is packaged. Those in the trucking industry needs to be aware of isn’t as complex as understanding everything written in the act, but instead what will affect the trucking industry specifically. This article provides a brief overview of the regulations, who they affect, explains who is in charge of creating the protocols as to how reefer loads will be handled, and touch on what the insurance concerns could be.
For the trucking industry, the FSMA is not to regulate the quality of food that’s being transported by trucks, but is to deem what is safe for consumption when it comes to refrigerated foods. The food and ingredients that are affected by this act are those that are transported in a tanker (with the exception of milk), food loaded in open boxes, and food in shrink wrap; for example, produce that is stored in open boxes, such as tomatoes or melons. These products apply to those in the United States for consumption. This will also apply to exports while they are in the U.S. before they are shipped.
After the effective date of April 6, 2016, carriers who have averaged $27.5 million in revenue during the past three years will have one year to be compliant. Carriers whose gross receipts have been averaged between $500,000 and $27.5 million in the last three years have two years to be compliant. Those whose gross receipts are under $500,000 in revenue are exempt and are not subject to the new regulations.
These new regulations will affect everyone who has any part in the transporting of refrigerated foods including the shippers, receivers/consignee, loaders, carriers, and brokers. Notice that those conducting the unloading are not included in that list. Those who will hold the control are the shippers. They will set the parameters as to what they deem to be “safe” and “unsafe” in regards to the content of the refrigerated loads. What they should be looking for is that the food on the trailer has not come into contact with any raw food, that there has been no cross contamination, and that there has been no exposure to allergens. The FMSA states that the equipment that’s being used to transport refrigerated food must be sanitary, but the shipper will define what they consider to be sanitary. They can tell the motor carrier how they want the trailer cleaned, and in regards to tanker trailers, they can and should be asking for a record of tank washes for the last three loads as well as what was hauled in the last three loads. Another item stated in the FMSA is that those transporting the foods affected by this act need to be trained, but the FMSA does not mandate what kind of training is needed. The shipper will decide who qualifies as someone who is trained, what training is necessary, and what documentation is required. There’s currently no proof or certificate showing that someone has went through training, so it truly is up to the shipper as to what they will require.
Another item of concern is how this will affect the insurance of those motor carriers who are hauling refrigerated foods. Will more loads be turned away? This is a possibility. Will your insurance cover any loss from this? This will depend on the cargo coverage you have; chances are that not every cargo carrier is going to have sufficient coverage for this situation. Motor carriers must examine the refrigeration breakdown endorsement attached to their policy to verify what they are actually covered for and any restrictions that apply. This is a case by case and policy by policy basis; therefore, speak with your insurance agency contact to pinpoint any vulnerability you may have within your coverage.
At its core, the Food Safety Modernization Act is truly trying to make food safer for consumption for the public. Because the trucking industry is such a large part of how food is transported, the motor carriers must go through their procedures and standardize how their operation runs to ensure that they are not subject to any penalties that could result from noncompliance.
To read the Food Safety Modernization Act in its entirety, please visit https://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=FDA-2011-N-0920-1979.