By David Fairfield, Senior Vice President of Feed Services
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued a new fact sheet for the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)-related final rule for sanitary transportation of food for humans and animals.
The updated fact sheet reiterates the agency’s previously stated intent to use an “educate before and while we regulate” approach to FSMA implementation, and says the agency will focus on supporting compliance through education in the initial months following the rule’s first compliance date. In doing so, FDA says that it expects inspections to begin for the rule later this year to ensure that shippers, receivers, loaders and carriers covered by the rule are complying with the requirements. The agency’s stated compliance goal when conducting the initial inspections will be to assess the industry’s level of readiness and, if deficiencies are found, to provide firms with the information they need to achieve compliance.
Among the many operations covered by the sanitary transportation rule are shippers, loaders, carriers and receivers involved with motor or rail vehicle transportation of raw agricultural commodities (e.g., grains and oilseeds), animal feed and feed ingredients, and human food and food ingredients. The NGFA has made available a comprehensive summary of the rule’s requirements on its website.
The first compliance date for the rule was April 6, 2017. This compliance date applies to businesses that do not meet the definition established within the rule for a “small business.” The rule defines a “small business” as a business, other than a motor carrier who is not also a shipper and/or receiver, employing fewer than 500 persons and motor carriers having less than $27.5 million in annual receipts. The compliance date for the rule for businesses that meet the “small business” definition is April 6, 2018.
Under the rule, shippers have the primary responsibility for ensuring that requirements are met. Carriers are required to provide training to personnel and to show documentation of that training when the carrier and shipper enter into a written agreement that the carrier is responsible, in whole or part, for the sanitary conditions during transport. To assist carriers in meeting the training obligation, FDA is developing a free training module for carriers that will be available in the next few months. Carriers also may elect to train their own personnel or to acquire training through third-party training vendors. FDA does not require training courses offered by a company or third party to be approved by FDA or that their instructors be certified in any manner.
To provide additional compliance assistance to industry, FDA intends to publish a Small Entity Compliance Guide for the rule later this year. The NGFA will announce the availability of the guide once it is made available.