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7 Things to Know: Sanitary Transportation of Food Final Rule

FDA temp control

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released text for the final rule for the Sanitary Transportation of Food as required by the 2010 Food Safety Modernization Act. There were some significant changes made in response to comments when compared to the draft rule. Here are some quick things to know regarding this widely anticipated rule:

  • The primary focus of this rule is fresh food that is in open containers, like clam shells or slotted crates, as well as liquid food shipped in bulk. Products completely enclosed in sealed packaging that do not require refrigeration for safety are excluded. The FDA drew a very clear line between temperature control for safety and temperature control for quality. For example, canned beverages that have “keep from freezing” instructions would be exempt. Remember that packaged, shelf-stable food is exempt.
  • The FDA loosened the requirements for trailer inspections and no longer requires a physical inspection. Other arrangements that ensure safe trailers are acceptable.
  • Continuous temperature monitoring is not a requirement of this rule. The FDA left wide flexibility in the methods and frequency of monitoring that may frustrate some shippers who desire more specific instructions. The FDA places responsibility for the details of temperature monitoring on the shipper who knows their product and safety requirements the best.
  • Small deviations in temperature readings are specifically allowable and will not lead to full load claims.
  • No hand washing facilities will be required as the draft rule proposed. The FDA eliminated this proposed requirement.
  • Most temperature controlled freight covered by this rule will need to be compliant in one year; small businesses have two years to comply.
  • Seals are specifically not required by this rule.

The FDA is clear that this rule is not intended to impose significant new requirements in the industry.

See Comment 129 and the FDA’s response to learn more about the requirements around temperature monitoring and what happens with deviations in temperature.

Look for more details in the near future across the industry press.

This post was co-written with Chris McLoughlin, risk manager at C.H. Robinson.

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