The U.S Food and Drug Administration has filed its rule on sanitary transportation under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), keeping to a court-ordered deadline of Jan. 31. “Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food” will 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 proposed rule establishes requirements for vehicle and transportation equipment, transportation operations, the exchange of information, training, written procedures and records. It does not apply to the transportation of fully packaged shelf-stable foods, live food animals, or raw agricultural commodities when transported by farms. Shippers, receivers and carriers involved in transporting food through the U.S. on its way to another country are also exempt. “This is an important part of the food handling process, one that can introduce contamination even after proper safeguards have been taken by the food producers and processors,” FDA deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, Michael Taylor, wrote on the agency’s blog. “Truthfully, it’s uncommon for a foodborne illness to be caused by contamination during transportation. But we have received reports of unsanitary practices, and we want to minimize this potential source of illness.” This is the seventh and final rule to be issued under FSMA. It will be published in the Federal Register on Feb. 5, and a comment period on the rule will be opened through May 31. FDA plans to hold three public meetings regarding the rule. The first two, on Feb. 27 in Chicago and March 13 in Anaheim, CA, will also address the proposed rule on intentional adulteration. The third will take place March 20 in College Park, MD, and will focus solely on the transportation rule. FDA also announced today that it is extending the comment period for the proposed rule on preventive controls for pet food and animal feed and draft risk assessment to March 31. Comments were originally due by Feb. 26.