As a result of the Food Safety Modernization Act, the Food and Drug Administration has been rather busy over the last few years. That act paved the way for the FDA to take a more proactive approach to the way they deal with foodborne illness. While their role in the past has largely focused on reacting to widespread outbreaks once they occur, the FSMA provided a path for the agency to take a more preventative approach to things.
The FDA has thus been taking steps to reduce the risk of foodborne illness before it occurs, and they’ve done so through the proposal of numerous rules focused on various sectors of the food supply. At the end of last week, the agency released their latest recommendation, and this particular rule is geared toward ensuring the safety of food while it’s in the midst of transportation.
The new rule will apply to many of the entities responsible for hauling food across the nation. That means carriers, receivers, and shippers of those products intended for human consumption. Such companies would be privy to heightened cleanliness standards and inspections to ensure the same. To be subject to the new benchmarks, a company has to be responsible for the transport of products that pull in more than half a million dollars every year.
A fact sheet launched in conjunction with the new proposal outlines the ways that the rule could serve to improve food safety and the various areas that this could affect.
The first set of standards that the rule clears the way for would apply to the equipment actually used during transportation. That would mean anything within the vehicle used during the movement of food, but it also means the vehicle itself must be suitable for the task at hand. That way, the food wouldn’t come into contact with anything that puts it at risk.
The other aspect of transportation that will need attention is of course the way that the food is handled every step of the way. Among other things, the FDA wants to make sure that food is kept separated from other non-consumables being hauled in the same load. It’s also important that foods be kept at an appropriate temperature.
Of course, these rules can’t be carried out adequately if companies and their workers aren’t empowered to take a stand for safety. That’s why the FDA will seek to create training standards for those involved in transportation. They also want companies to implement a better communication infrastructure so that potential hazards can be identified without confusion.
In these ways, the hope is that food can be protected during preparation and transport before it finally reaches your table for consumption.