New food hauling regulations up the need for clean equipment, lawyer says

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Updated May 15, 2016

reeferPertaining to new regulations handed down last month by the FDA for food haulers, shippers will now be in charge of setting cleanliness guidelines for truckers and their equipment and could turn trucks away without loads if they fail to meet previously agreed to requirements, says one transportation focused lawyer.

Rob Moseley of transportation firm Smith Moore Leatherwood offered a few insights into the new regulations in a May 11 webinar held for shippers, brokers and carriers.

The Food & Drug Administration rules are very broad, Moseley said, and only about 10 percent of the rule applies to food transportation. Even then, most of the transportation-focused portions of the rule are meant for shippers, so just a small part of the rule applies to carriers directly, Moseley said.

As previously reported by Overdrive, the April 6, 2017-effective rules require shippers to develop standards for food shipments that fall under the regs, which include foods meant for consumption in the U.S., unenclosed food like produce and temperature-controlled food.

“Shippers are in control of the process, there’s no question about that,” Moseley said. “They’re in control of how their goods are to be transported. And the consignee or receiver is tasked with making sure those protocols set by the shipper have been met.”

Shippers must set not only sanitation requirements for carriers’ equipment, but also pre-cooling requirements for reefer loads and periodic training for carrier personnel, drivers included, who may interact with food products.

Likely the key takeaway from the new regulations for food hauling carriers is to have clean, well kept equipment, Moseley said. “This may mean that trailers need work,” he said. “If they’re leaking with rain from the roof, or if roadwater is coming into the trailer from the floor, you may need to make some changes,” he said. Small holes, debris, vermon droppings or trailers that smell bad will likely also give shippers pause under the new rules, Moseley said, and should be taken care of.

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“Folks will show up with equipment that’s dirty, and shippers will say ‘we’re not gonna load it,’” Moseley said, and that’s gonna be on the shippers to decide what they’re going to load and what they’re not going to load.”

Another component of the rule likely to apply to carriers are its pre-cooling requirements. When shippers dictate certain pre-cooling temperatures prior to food being loaded onto a trailer, those requirements must be met, Moseley said. Long waiting times at a dock in which trailer doors are open can compromise such pre-cooling, he said, and shippers may soon start checking for proper pre-cooling temperatures due to the new FDA regulations, he said.

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