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US FDA finalises new rule to prevent contamination during transportation

Thursday, 07 April, 2016, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
The US Food and Drug Administration recently finalised a new food safety rule under the landmark FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that will help to prevent food contamination during transportation. The rule will require those involved in transporting human and animal food by motor or rail vehicle to follow recognised best practices for sanitary transportation, such as properly refrigerating food, adequately cleaning vehicles between loads and properly protecting food during transportation.

The action is part of a larger effort to focus on prevention of food safety problems throughout the food chain, and the rule implements the Sanitary Food Transportation Act of 2005 (SFTA) as well as the requirement in Section 111 of FSMA that instructed FDA to issue SFTA regulations. The regulation will apply to food transported within the United States by motor or rail vehicle, whether or not the food is offered for or enters interstate commerce. Shippers, loaders, carriers and receivers engaged in transportation operations of food imported by motor or rail vehicle and consumed or distributed in the United States are also subject to the final rule.

“Consumers deserve a safe food supply and this final rule will help to ensure that all those involved in the farm-to-fork continuum are doing their part to ensure that the food products that arrive in our grocery stores are safe to eat,” said Michael R. Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine.

The rule was proposed in February 2014 and takes into consideration more than 200 comments submitted by the transportation industry, food industry, government regulatory partners, international trading partners, consumer advocates, tribal organisations and others. It also builds on the transportation industry’s best practices for cleaning, inspecting, maintaining, loading and unloading and operating vehicles and transportation equipment.

Implementation of the sanitary transportation rule and all FSMA final rules will require partnership, education and training.

“We recognise the importance of education and training in achieving widespread compliance, and we are committed to working with both industry and our government partners to ensure effective implementation of all of the new food safety rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act,” said Taylor.

Businesses would be required to comply with the new regulation one year after publication of the final rule, with smaller businesses having two years to comply with the new requirements.

The FDA has finalised six of the seven major rules that implement the core of FSMA. The final rule on Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food builds on the Preventive Controls Rules for Human Food and Animal Food, the Produce Safety Rule, Foreign Supplier Verification Program Rule and the Accreditation of Third-Party Certification Rule, all of which FDA finalised last year. The seventh rule, which focusses on mitigation strategies to protect food against intentional adulteration, is expected to be finalised later in 2016. These seven rules will work together to systemically strengthen the food safety system and better protect public health.

The FDA, an agency within the US Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency is also responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

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