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Quick Guide to Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Compliance

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is an important law that impact the trucking industry. It’s also the first major alteration to food safety laws since the 1940s.

The US government enacted the rules in 2011 to ensure that the US food supply is safe. The law shifts focus from responding to contamination to preventing it from occurring in the first place. It includes a rule on Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food (STF) to protect foods from contamination during transportation.

The law states that the shipper/receiver and carrier can agree to a temperature monitoring mechanism for foods that require temperature control for safety. It also requires carriers to demonstrate that they maintained requested temperature conditions upon request.

How FSMA Impacts Fleets

The FSMA requires fleet operators working in the food transportation industry to have a temperature monitoring system in place in their trailers. Carriers must also keep records demonstrating they maintained the temperature conditions the shipper/receiver requires. They must also present the records to the shipper/receiver upon request.

Brief Overview of Compliance Challenges

As with many government regulations, fleet operators need to stay aware of all the fin print in the law. For example, FSMA compliance requires fleet to keep records detailing the procedures, agreements, and training (required of carriers) related to practices implemented for the sanitary transportation of food. They must also keep records (spreadsheet or PDF) demonstrating they maintained the temperature conditions the shipper/receiver required. They must also present, upon request, the records to the shipper/receiver for all shipments.

These records need to be retained for a length of time. This depends on the record type and when the activity covered took place, but for no more than 12 months.


The Results of Non-Compliance

Generally, failure to comply with FDA regulations could result in fines, cargo claims, and even criminal sanctions in cases where mishandling of food is responsible for sickness and/or death. Max fines for criminal prosecution of an individual are $100K if resulting in sickness or $250K and as much as a year imprisonment for each contaminated item if resulting in death. Fines for the same infractions are $200K or $500K for organizations.

Even compliance has its costs.

For example, a failure of temperature control along the supply chain could prevent a load of food from being sold or distributed. Even a one-degree variance in the temperature of a shipment of yogurt can make it considered “adulterated” and fit only for trash or compost. Without prior agreements, the shipment must be thrown away.

Bad shipments can create a heavy financial toll for all involved.

Technology Helps with FSMA Compliance

When integrated into a trailer tracking system as part of a fleet management software solution, temperature sensors provide data that includes temperatures for each load that is transported along each route. Some software systems also allow for the ability to monitor trailer utilization and will provide alerts on temperature when it falls below or rises above a certain programmable temperature threshold.

That’s a great way to ensure that food shipments arrive safe and ready for customers.

Learn more about how companies use temperature tracking.