FDA Takes Steps to Increase Safety of Foods During Transport

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is asking commercial food transporters to follow new guidance the agency is issuing to reduce the chances of physical, chemical, biological and other risks during transportation of foods while the agency reviews current food safety transportation regulations.

In an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) published in the Federal Register, the FDA has requested input on writing the new rules from all interested parties, including the food and transportation industries and consumer interest organizations. The ANPRM is the first step in creating new regulations to govern sanitary practices by shippers, carriers by motor vehicle or rail vehicle, receivers, and others engaged in the transportation of food products for people and animals.

The new industry guidance covers safety measures that should be employed while the regulations are being written and finalized. They include ensuring that food in transit is maintained at appropriate temperatures; that such food is closely monitored for pests; that the vehicles used to transport foods are sanitary and in proper working condition; that pallets used are of good quality; and that sanitary measures are followed in the loading and unloading of foods.

“Our aim is to look at every component of the system to assess hazards, and to take science-based action where appropriate to maximize the safety of our food from farms all the way to consumers’ tables,” said FDA’s associate commissioner for food protection, Jeff Farrar. “Although contamination of food product during commercial transport is relatively infrequent, the potential harm can be widespread and serious.”

After evaluating comments received in response to the ANPRM, the FDA will propose specific regulations. The FDA will coordinate with the U.S. departments of Agriculture and Transportation in the rulemaking process.

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