FDA Food Safety Regulatory Compliance and Liability for Motor Carriers

FDA Food Safety Regulatory Compliance and Liability for Motor Carriers

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires any trucking company hauling food to comply with the Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food Rule (STF) as part of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). STF’s aim is to provide accountability and visibility for all steps of transporting food from farm to table. The rule calls for truckers hauling food to comply with the shipper requirements, which means following industry-wide safety protocols for temperature-controlled cargo.

While the rule identifies shippers as the responsible party, defined as whoever initiates the shipment, the International Refrigerated Transportation Association (IRTA) stresses that carriers and loaders need to abide by the STF regulations as well. Shipper and carrier should agree on temperature-monitoring practices and other standards of safety prior to loading goods, and loaders should be trained and informed with documentation to safeguard the chain of custody.

Carriers need to make sure they understand every step of shipper requirements and adhere to any supplied food safety plans to ensure a safe, unspoiled delivery. IRTA also recommends maintaining transport documentation should any lawsuits occur to protect carriers.

For example, maintaining clean trailers is critical to prevent cross-contamination. Even if a fleet employs standard cleaning protocols between deliveries, they should make a record of every cleaning. If food turns up contaminated, providing proof of a thorough cleaning prior to shipment can go a long way to absolving a fleet.

If a covered person or company at any point in the transportation chain becomes aware of any condition that may render a food unsafe, the food must not be sold or distributed until a determination of safety is made.

Good record keeping alone isn’t always enough to protect fleets from legal action related to spoiled food. The experts at Interstate Motor Carriers are intimately familiar with the risks trucking companies face when hauling food cargo. Contact us to learn more about reducing your trucking company’s risks.