The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was touted as one of the biggest reforms in the history of
U.S. food safety when it was signed into
law in 2011 — and for good reason.
FSMA put a strong focus on prevention
of foodborne illnesses by placing greater
enforcement authorities into the hands of
the FDA. Yet, the immediate impact was
minimal. The FDA was given the authority
to initiate a food recall, but the preventive
rules were yet to be written and funding
hadn’t been fully implemented. Since
then, those rules have been crafted and
are now mandatory. While many food
producers, distributors and transporters
have proactively implemented plans to
comply with new laws that will come into
effect in 2017 and beyond, many more
must prepare for what’s coming.
New Laws/Compliance Dates
The FSMA required food organizations
to comply with new preventative
measures one year after their final posting
to give companies time to implement
the proper practices and procedures.
Smaller businesses are given two years to
prepare, while very small businesses have
up to three years to get up to code. Some
compliance dates are further out than the
standard prescribed time allotment.
The chart below outlines several laws
the FDA will begin enforcing in 2017 and
An important FSMA rule that goes
into effect on April 1, 2017 is Sanitary
Transportation of Human and Animal Food.
The rule covers anyone involved in the
shipping, receiving, loading and carrying
of food in the U.S. (and to be distributed in
the U.S.) by motor or rail vehicle. The key
points of this rule include:
• Vehicles and transportation equipment
must be designed for easy cleaning and
maintenance to safely transport food.
• Transportation operations must provide
adequate measures to ensure food
safety, including proper temperature
controls, protection from cross-contamination, prevention of ready-to-eat food from touching raw food
and prevention of food contamination
from non-food items in the same — or
previous — load.
• Training carrier personnel in sanitary
transportation and documentation of
• Written maintenance records of all food
safety procedures for up to 12 months.
This rule is an extension of safeguards
originally envisioned in the Sanitary Food
Transportation Act of 2005. It came forth
following illness outbreaks that were
attributed to human and animal food that
was contaminated during transportation.
Small businesses employing fewer than
500 people and motor carriers with less
than $27.5 million in annual receipts have
until April 1, 2018 to comply with this
rule. Food transportation
operations with less than
$500,000 in annual revenue
are exempt from this rule.
Step 1: Make a Plan
As is the case with
following most new rules,
the first priority for any
business is to make a plan.
In the case with FSMA, it
is required. Food facilities
must implement a written
preventative controls plan.
It starts with evaluating hazards in the
facility that might affect food safety. The
next step is to specify the preventative
steps or controls that will be put in place
to minimize or prevent the hazards.
Monitoring practices must then be
specified to evaluate the effectiveness of
these preventative steps. Thorough records
of this monitoring are required, as are
the actions the facility will take to correct
problems that might arise with these
precautions in place.
Food Safety Challenges
Contamination is one of the biggest
challenges to address in the food industry.
As evidenced by the Sanitary Transportation
rule that’s going into effect early next year,
transportation and supply chain logistics
play a major role in this area.
When food products are stored
and moved within a facility, cross-contamination is another concern. Due
to allergies and other food sensitivities,
facilities must take the utmost care in
handling different types of food. Cold chain
integrity is another aspect FSMA addresses,
and food operations businesses need to
pay close attention. A broken security seal,
exposure to outside elements or another
type of breakdown in the cold chain can
lead to spoilage or contamination.
Loading Dock Solutions
While the list of challenges is lengthy,
the list of solutions is just as long.
Advances in loading dock area practices
and equipment help facility managers
combat issues related to food safety
hazards, and can help get those operations
in compliance with FSMA.
The Loading Dock’s Role in
Satisfying New FSMA Standards
By Troy Bergum, Product Manager, Rite-Hite Products
for HumanFood 8/30/15 8/30/16 8/30/17 8/30/18
forAnimal Feed 8/30/15 8/30/16 8/30/17 8/30/18
Produce Safety 10/31/15 12/31/17 12/31/18 12/31/19
VerificationProgram 10/31/15 4/30/17 4/30/17 4/30/17
Transportation 3/31/16 3/31/17 3/31/18 <$500k N/A
FoodDefense 5/31/16 7/31/17 7/31/18 7/31/19