As part of the preventive refocus that is the cornerstone of the Food Safety Modernization Act, the Food and Drug Administration has launched an online training tool to help trucking companies meet the requirements of the new Sanitary Transportation Rule.

“The Sanitary Transportation Rule requires rail and motor vehicle carriers covered by the rule to provide food safety training to their personnel engaged in transportation operations,” according to the FDA’s description. “The training must provide personnel with an awareness of: 1. potential food safety problems; 2. basic sanitary practices; and 3. carrier responsibilities.

“The goal of this rule is to prevent practices during transportation that create food safety risks, such as failure to properly refrigerate food, inadequate cleaning of vehicles between loads, and failure to properly protect food.”

Two primary requirements of the new rule that specifically address that goal address equipment and operations:

  • Vehicles and transportation equipment: The design and maintenance of vehicles and transportation equipment to ensure that it does not cause the food that it transports to become unsafe. For example, they must be suitable and adequately cleanable for their intended use and capable of maintaining temperatures necessary for the safe transport of food.
  • Transportation operations: The measures taken during transportation to ensure food safety, such as adequate 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 load or previous load, and protection of food from cross-contact, i.e., the unintentional incorporation of a food allergen.

From the moment a shipper and a carrier agree in a written contract that the carrier is responsible for sanitary conditions during transportation, the carrier training requirement applies. The training module satisfies that requirement and helps establish and maintain records that document the training.

The FDA suggests several options that carriers can consider to meet the rule requirements:

  • Offer the module to their operations personnel as a means of satisfying the minimum requirements;
  • Use the module to complement or enhance training they currently offer;
  • Train personnel using their own training programs; or
  • Provide training obtained from a third-party vendor or other provider.

For carriers that are not prepared to spend additional time and resources on the regulation, the FDA notes that the one-hour training can be completed, free of charge, on the FDA’s website.

Additionally, for carriers that currently maintain their own Learning Management System, the administrator can download and import the FDA’s course files directly into their company systems. This allows carriers to monitor the completion data in their system.

“Individuals who complete the online module will be able to generate a certificate of completion from the website,” according to FDA.

However, carriers subject to the training requirements must establish and maintain records documenting the training of operations personnel, which they may be asked to provide to FDA upon request. April 6 marked the first compliance date for businesses under the Sanitary Transportation Rule, effecting larger operations. April 6, 2018, is the compliance date for small businesses under the rule.

In a previous statement regarding the Sanitary Transportation Rule, Jim Gorny, vice president of food safety and technology at the Produce Marketing Association, said it is important to note that the rule does not cover on-farm transportation.

However, he said, the FDA is considering development of guidance for on-farm transportation and, of course, farm activities are covered under the Produce Rule.

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