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Sanitary Food Transportation Act in Focus

The Food and Drug Administration has the responsibility for implementing FSMA and has issued seven proposed rules on each of the critical elements. These include Hazard Analysis and Preventive Controls for both human and animal food; Produce Safety; Intentional Adulteration; Foreign Supplier Verification Programs; Accreditation of Third-party Auditors; and finally the Sanitary Food Transportation Act (SFTA).

While each of these rules will impact different areas of the food supply chain, for foodservice distributors the Sanitary Food Transportation Act proposal represents perhaps the most critical FSMA change.

SFTA is actually a separate piece of legislation that was passed by Congress in 1990. At the time, the law gave the Department of Transportation the responsibility for overseeing food safety in transportation. This was outside the DOTís expertise, however, and regulations implementing the law were never written. In 2005, Congress moved authority for SFTA over to the FDA. The agency did not immediately act on the law, though it did issue an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking in 2010 seeking stakeholder input regarding how to regulate food transportation. FSMA requires FDA to implement SFTA and the new proposal builds on the comments from the agencyís 2010 effort.

The regulations would be the first-ever rules regarding food transportation. Currently, the only requirement in the law is that food must be transported in a manner in which it will not become adulterated. The new proposal creates the idea of good transportation practices and places more specific obligations on shippers, carriers and receivers. Like the Hazard Analysis and Preventive Controls proposal, it is designed to control the most likely hazards through general sanitation of vehicles, proper refrigeration, cleaning between loads, and the protection of food during transport.

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