Three Questions to Ask Your Transportation Service Providers About Food Safety
While the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) continues to be a work in progress, it is unquestionably generating more accountability throughout the supply chain. Passed back in 2011, FSMA has been the most extensive reform of our food safety laws in more than 70 years. The act requires companies in the food industry to focus on preventing food contamination, rather than responding to it (FDA). More recent rules require the FDA to implement the Sanitary Food Transportation Act (SFTA), a piece of legislation previously controlled by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). Changes related to sanitary transportation affect not only food distributors, but all key stakeholders in the process: shippers, consignees, carriers, warehouses, and third-party logistics providers.
With the SFTA’s recent shift in governance from the DOT, we now have the regulation of safe and legitimate transportation of all goods in the hands of the FDA—a task that may be outside of their core competency. While the FDA has the knowledge and processes for inspecting food safety in the field and in facilities, they lack transportation expertise. As a result, little has been done to regulate food transportation (Inbound Logistics). That said, as scrutiny over manufacturing, packaging and distribution of the product grows, it will be increasingly critical that carriers, brokers, 3PLs, and truckers alike are well versed in the compliance standards of the shippers and receivers they partner with. A proposal issued by the FDA last year places more detailed obligations on shippers, carriers, and receivers, but language still focuses on broad-based goals, rather than specific practices.
To ensure compliance, it is imperative for companies involved with food transportation to take it upon themselves to design food safety controls and provide customers with visibility into their processes. Because there is no standard way to ship freight, carriers and 3PLs must be ready to adjust their practices to comply with each customer’s unique requirements on both the sending and receiving ends of a shipment.
When selecting a transportation provider, make sure you are investing in companies that follow food-safety best practices. Below are some questions to consider.
- Are they well-versed in FSMA and other legislation around food safety?
- Do they collaborate with manufacturers to understand customer specifications at both ends of a shipment?
- Can they adjust their practices and adapt to a variety of different specifications?
, we understand our customers are under stricter FDA regulations than ever before. Contact us to find out how we can help you maintain compliance, ensure food quality, and contain costs.