Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finalized a new food safety rule – the Food Safety Modernization Act – with the intent to prevent food contamination during transportation.President Barack Obama signed the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010 (FSMA) into law on January 4, 2011. The purpose of the law is to make sure that the U.S. food supply is safe, shifting the focus of federal regulators to preventing contamination from responding to it. The FSMA has given the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) new powers that enable the agency regulate the way foods are processed, grown and harvested. The law grants the FDA mandatory recall authority – a power that the agency has specifically sought for many years.
Food Safety Modernization: A Move Towards Prevention, Not Reaction
The Food Safety Modernization Act follows over fifteen years of multiple foodborne outbreaks that sickened hundreds of thousands and resulted in numerous fatalities. On top of that, tainted food has cost the food industry billions of dollars in recalls, lost sales and legal expenses.
The rule will require those involved in transporting human and animal food by motor or rail vehicle to follow recognized best practices for sanitary transportation, such as properly refrigerating food, adequately cleaning vehicles between loads and properly protecting food during transportation. The Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food rule requires industry participants to follow best practices for maintaining food safety during transport by motor or rail within or across state lines. The rule employs best practices identified by the transportation industry, including proper refrigeration, maintenance of written records, adequate and frequent vehicle cleaning, and food protection during transport.
The finalized rule was proposed in February 2014, and incorporates more than 200 comments from industry and government leaders were incorporated into the final rule. These changes lead to greater flexibility in temperature monitoring standards during transport and clarify definitions of food adulteration as it relates to safety, the FDA said.
Businesses are required to comply with the final rule one year after it is published in the Federal Register. Smaller businesses receive a bit more leeway, and are given two years to comply. The FDA estimates that initial costs for implementing the program will be around $163 million, with an annual cost of about $94 million.
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