Boise-area attorney David Ballard provided clarification of the Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food at a March 3 meeting of the Idaho-Oregon Fruit and Vegetable Association, noting that the date for final publication of the rule is set for March 31.
In his presentation, Ballard covered several definitions germane to the Idaho-Eastern Oregon onion industry, telling meeting attendees that compliance for non-small businesses (those which employ more than 500 persons) is one year after final publication and two years for small businesses. He made clear in the document that the outline is for “general information purposes only and that the information presented should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of an attorney-client relationship.”
Taking the FSMA definition of a small business, the presentation said it is one having fewer than 500 employees and less than $25.5 million in annual receipts. A non-small business has one year to comply.
The presentation went on to explain that the purpose of the pending final rule is to “require the use of sanitary transportation practices to ensure that food, which is to be consumed or distributed in the United States, is not transported under conditions that may render the food adulterated.”
Also defined was adulterated food, which “bears or contains added poisonous or deleterious substance…,” consists “in whole or in part of any filthy, putrid or decomposed substance…,” and/or has “been prepared, packed or held under unsanitary conditions…”
Under the “risky practices” definitions were failure to properly refrigerate, inadequate cleaning of vehicles between loads, failure to protect food during transportation, transport of raw meat and poultry in same vehicle used for fresh fruits and vegetables (resulting in cross-contamination), improper packaging, insect infestation, insanitary storage, low driver awareness of safe food temps, inadequate food safety training of drivers, improper management of transportation units or storage facilities, incorrect use of packing materials, improper loading/unloading practices, poor pest control, lack of food safety training and knowledge for drivers and supervisors, poor transportation unit design and construction, inadequate preventive maintenance for units and storage, poor employee hygiene, inadequate safe transport policies, improper handling and tracking of rejected loads and improper holding practices.
Storage warehouse has “assumed the duties of the shipper,” which include specifying “to the carrier, in writing, all necessary sanitary requirements for the carrier’s vehicle and transportation equipment…”
The shipper is also required “before loading food not completely enclosed by a container onto a vehicle… to visually inspect the vehicle or the transportation equipment provided by the carrier for cleanliness and determine that the vehicle or transportation equipment is in appropriate sanitary condition…” as put forth in 21 CFR § 1.908(b)(3). Additional related conditions also apply.
The document further states that shippers “shall retain records that demonstrate that they provide information as required by [the ruling] as a regular part of their transportation operations for a period of 12 months beyond when the shipper is subject of any requirement to provide such information.”
A carrier is defined in the FSMA rule as “a person who owns, leases or is otherwise ultimately responsible for the use of a motor vehicle or rail to transport food and a carrier may also be a receiver or shipper if the person also performs the functions of those respective persons…” as defined in a ruling subpart.
Carriers are also required to maintain records of temperature conditions during transport along with providing and maintaining equipment “that meets requirements specified by the shipper…”
Similar record-keeping is required of carriers for “a period of 12 moths beyond when the person identified in any such records continues to perform the duties for which the training was provided.”
Bill Trask, food safety director of Baker Packing Co. in Ontario, OR, and also this year’s president of the I-OFVA, told OnionBusiness.com the ruling will affect record-keeping, which will be more critical in day-to-day operations.