Transportation impact of food safety rules unknown

03/22/2013 03:12:00 PM
Tom Burfield

The Food and Drug Administration released its proposed Food Safety Modernization Act regulation in January, but the law’s impact on the transportation industry remains to be seen.

“People are starting to discuss it,” said Jon Samson, executive director of the Agricultural and Food Transporters Conference of the American Trucking Associations, Arlington, Va.

“Manufacturers and shippers are looking at traceability, but there’s not a lot of focus on the carrier side,” he said.

A shift — or at least a strengthening of traceability as it relates to carriers — is likely, he said.

Shippers willo want to know where their product is going and where it’s been, Samson said.

“In order to have that information, you’re going to have to have an entire supply chain of traceability from point A to point B,” he said. “We’re still trying to figure out exactly how we’re going to do that.”

It’s still early, though, and the industry is still trying to learn about the Food Safety Modernization Act, said Vicki Gable, business development coordinator for Bigelow Truck Brokers, Glendale, Ariz.

“We have not heard that it will have a major effect, negative or positive, at this point,” she said.

The USDA has not come out with any rules for the transportation side, said Kenny Lund, vice president of support operations for the Allen Lund Co., La Canada Flintridge, Calif.

Carriers say they already follow strict food safety procedures.

For one thing, trailers today carry many more sealed loads than in the past, said Marshall Kipp, president and chief executive officer for Advanced Transportation Services, Visalia, Calif.

That’s a good thing, he said, because it’s the shipper, not the driver, who is responsible for loading and counting the product.

In some cases, drivers must sign for a load but are not allowed to enter the dock to verify the count.

Clean trailers also help ensure a safe product.

Advanced Transportation Services requires that trailers be washed, Kipp said.

“We’re conscious and aware of the need for good sanitation practices,” he said.

At Bigelow Truck Brokers, “We’re a stickler for (food safety),” Gable said. “We follow strict guidelines.”

Lund said he is unaware of any load being contaminated by a truck, with the exception of an insect infestation.

Produce is loaded on pallets and does not touch the floor or ceiling of the trailer, he said.


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