Depending on the type and size of business, the FDA can demand proof of record anywhere from under 1-year and upwards to 2-years, all while needing to address their inquiry within 24 hours.
Food Safety Modernization Act’s (FSMA) Final Rule on Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food consists of rigorous demands that leave food transportation businesses vulnerable to error and, in turn, FDA penalties. These penalties are not only harmful to reputation, but can also incur serious financial harm on a company’s bottom-line.
While the law was enacted with the best intentions to prevent food from becoming contaminated, it leaves transportation companies questioning their traditional methods regarding efficiency.
The final rule calls for shippers, loaders, and receivers to execute best practices as it relates to sanitation, proper refrigeration, cleanliness of containers, and recordkeeping. A breach in these procedures may inflict serious consequence and increase the likeliness of food waste, which is becoming an epidemic within the global food chain.
Sanitation. Regulatory controls call for sanitization checks to be implemented under Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) guidelines. Maintaining a regulatory sanitation program is important for all businesses within the food and supply chain marketplace to ensure that containers, facilities, and other materials are clean. This process is paramount to eliminating the risk of product contamination, cross-contamination, microbiological issues, pest activity, and mitigating the spread of allergens; as the improper handling, preparation, and loading of food puts both an organization’s employees and its customers at risk.
Temperature control. A prevailing trend in the cold chain is the focus on quality and product sensitivity. With an increase in demand for premium products, shippers must maintain the integrity of these loads, as a change in temperature may jeopardize the quality and taste of these goods. Not only do shippers, loaders, and receivers need to ensure the temperature settings are correct for transport and arrival, but they also have to combat the following factors:
- Exterior heat.When temperatures increase outside, the metal of trailers absorb this heat and transfers it inside. Reefers must be calibrated to handle heat increase or spoilage will occur.
- Residual heat.Once heat rises within a trailer, it tends to remain. The insulating materials within work together with the load to capture and radiate the heat within.
- Infiltration heat.Any opening or holes within a trailer allow for warm air to enter and cold air to exit, increasing the likeliness of spoilage.
- Respiratory heat.Natural heat produced by product respiration is standard; however, certain products give off more than others. Respiration can be mitigated by keeping these items at cool temperatures. If your trailer is compromised, so too will your delivery.
Recordkeeping. Depending on the type and size of business, the FDA can demand proof of record anywhere from under 1-year and upwards to 2-years, all while needing to address their inquiry within 24 hours. Failure to do so will be considered a “prohibited act,” and violators can be tried for civil and criminal penalties.
This will put immense pressure on the food transportation industry, not only to make food safety a priority, but also to ensure that proper food safety practice and measures are being properly implemented by way of recordkeeping.
Companies must determine the most efficient and plausible manner by which they will comply. Traditional storage of records in filing cabinets and input of data in spreadsheets is antiquated, leading to errors and the potential for misplaced records. Now, more than ever, is time for businesses along the food chain to deliver value to their organization via digital technologies and automated data gathering solutions. This will ensure constant visibility and ensure quality control throughout the process from farm to fork.