By Mike Quimby, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Element Fleet Management
From electronic log books to evolving safety standards, there are many changes happening within the trucking industry.
Now new measures are being put in place to ensure transportation practices don’t create safety hazards for the food we (and our pets) consume. Last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration finalized a final rule on new requirements for the sanitary transportation of food by truck and rail. This new development requires shippers and motor carriers to ensure fleet vehicles are properly refrigerated and cleaned when transporting food.
According to the rule, “Due to illness outbreaks involving human food and animal food that became contaminated during transportation, and incidents and reports of insanitary transportation practices, there have been concerns over the past few decades about the need to ensure that food is transported in the United States in a sanitary manner.”
The new regulations are part of an effort to focus on prevention of food safety problems throughout the food chain and will affect a large portion of the trucking industry. This is incredibly significant. Looking at the scope of the ruling, 516,000 truckloads, 384,000 refrigerated trucks and 25,217 trucking facilities will need to comply with the new regulations.
Called the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, the rule establishes requirements for shippers, loaders, carriers by motor or rail vehicle and receivers involved in transporting human and animal food to use sanitary practices. It’s important that fleet managers are aware of this comprehensive development dealing with the production, shipping and housing of food. Understanding the four separate key rulings is also critical.
Vehicles and transportation equipment
This aspect of the regulation focuses on the design and maintenance of fleet vehicles and transportation equipment, ensuring transported food remains safe. This includes a vehicle’s cleanliness. Fleet operators need to ensure trucks are washed out regularly to avoid cross contamination. A fleet management company can help provide insight on the best ways to meet these regulations.
This covers the measures taken during transportation to guarantee food safety, such as sufficient temperature controls, preventing contamination of ready to eat food from touching raw food, protection of food from contamination by non-food items in the same or previous load and protection of food from cross-contact. A data recorder to monitor temperature or other telematics device may be useful with regards to proper transportation operations.
In all aspects of fleet operations, training drivers and other personnel is crucial. The new regulations highlight the need to train employees in sanitary transportation practices. This training must be documented and is required when both the carrier and shipper agree the carrier is responsible for hygienic conditions during transport.
Keeping thorough records is also part of the Food Safety Modernization Act. Fleet managers must keep records of written procedures, agreements and training.
How do you envision these changes affecting the operation of your fleet? Do you currently document what chemicals you use when cleaning trailers? Are the washouts recorded? There are many questions fleet managers need to ask themselves in light of the tighter regulations. Turning to a fleet management company for assistance can help eliminate any confusion around the Food Safety Modernization Act.
What questions do you have about this latest trucking industry development? Leave a comment or send us a tweet, @ElementFleet.
Each month Fleet Management Weekly features insight from Mike Quimby, senior vice president and general manager at Element Fleet Management.