LAST MONTH’S COLUMN began a discussion of the Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Foods Rule (the Sanitary Transport Rule, or STF), one of the seven pillar rules embodied by the sweeping Food Safety Modernization Act that became law in January 2011.
With implications for all food-related businesses involved with public refrigerated warehousing (PRW) and, therefore, part of the food cold supply chain, the STF rule “is an additional safeguard … to prevent transportation practices that may negatively impact food safety. The new rule applies to shippers, receivers, and carriers transporting both human and animal food products within or into the [United States]. Carriers hired by shippers and PRWs now must follow strict vehicle maintenance guidelines, operational procedures, data exchange, training, protocols, and record management.” (Datex)
The final STF rule was published to the Federal Register on April 6, 2016, making it enforceable, in part, as early as April 6, 2017.
Much more so than PRW companies, the STF rule places a heavy burden on trucking and rail companies. Not only must these companies properly maintain their vehicles, box cars, and refrigeration equipment for the safe transport of processed and unprocessed food products, they must keep records of that maintenance and have them available for inspection. The carriers also must put their transportation personnel through additional training on STF rule compliance, and it’s likely that many of them will have to purchase new technologies, such as remote satellite uplinks, to ensure that their cargos are being transported at proper temperatures.
As noted last month, many PRWs don’t own trucks, but they do have a role in compliance of the STF rule. It’s a customer-service role, really, for the shippers and receivers they serve. PRW personnel help their customers by doing visual inspections, taking food and trailer temperature readings, asking questions, and noting on the transportation bill of lading anything that seems unusual, suspicious, damaged, or out of compliance. Problems can include warmer-than-specified transport temperatures, evidence of insects or rodents, equipment malfunctions, lack of cleanliness, and holes in trailers. When problems with a food load are discovered, the PRW company will contact its customer right away to resolve the matter and receive instructions on how to handle the shipment.
For most PRW companies, abiding by the new STF rule isn’t a huge undertaking. The well-managed PRWs have been abiding by the spirit of the rule for many years — knowing that it was coming in formality and knowing that it’s the responsible way to do business and maintain the cold supply chain.
This column is sponsored by Adams Cold Storage, LLC.
column by BEN ADAMS, JR.
BIO: Ben Adams, Jr., is an owner and president of Adams Cold Storage, LLC, in Auburndale. He has been directly involved in citrus production, warehousing and distribution, as well as state and community support, since 1980. His facility incorporates about 200,000 square feet of multitemperature warehousing, with an extensive expansion project currently under way.