The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday proposed a sanitary transport rule in accordance with the Food Safety Modernization Act, adhering to its Jan. 31 deadline.
The rule would require certain shippers, receivers, and carriers who transport food by motor or rail vehicles to take steps to prevent the contamination of human and animal food during transportation.
The proposal marks the seventh and final major rule in the FDA FMSA's central framework aimed at systematically building preventive measures across the food system. The FSMA has been characterized as the first sweeping reform to food safety in more than 70 years.
The transport rule would establish criteria for properly refrigerating food, adequately cleaning vehicles between loads, and properly protecting food during transportation, among other safety regulations.
The proposed rule would apply to shippers, carriers, and receivers who transport food that will be consumed or distributed in the United States and is "intended to ensure that persons engaged in the transportation of food that is at the greatest risk for contamination during transportation follow appropriate sanitary transportation practices," FDA said.
The requirements in the proposed rule, however, would not apply to the transportation of fully packaged shelf-stable foods, live food animals, and raw agricultural commodities when transported by farms. A more complete list of exemptions is below.
"Truthfully, it's uncommon for a foodborne illness to be caused by contamination during transportation," FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine Michael Taylor said in an FDA blog post, "but we have received reports of unsanitary practices, and we want to minimize this potential source of illness."
Public meetings scheduled, comment requested
The FDA will hold three meetings this year on the rule: Feb. 27 at the Hilton Chicago in Chicago, March 13 at the Sheraton Park Hotel in Anaheim, Calif., and March 20 at the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition in College Park, Md.
The Chicago and Anaheim meetings will remain one day meetings but run until approximately 5 p.m., while the College Park meeting will run from 8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
The proposed rule will be published Feb. 5 in the Federal Register and will be available for public comment until May 31, 2014.
FSMA comment extension
FDA also on Friday extended the comment period for another portion of the FSMA, the proposed rule preventative controls for animal food.
Comments may now be submitted until March 31, 2014. They were originally due by February 26, 2014.