What You Should Know about the Sanitary Transportation of Food Rule
By Jason Craig, C.H. Robinson
This year, April 1 has more meaning than just April Fool’s Day. For many in our industry, the Sanitary Transportation of Food (STF) rule goes into effect. Since this broad rule affects so many in the industry, here’s what you need to know:
- Commodities that fall under this rule
As part of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the STF rule applies to human or animal food items that are shipped open to the air, temperature controlled for safety, or shipped in bulk trailers or tankers via truck or rail.
The rule differentiates items that are temperature controlled for quality versus safety. Typical products that need temperature controlled shipping for safety include fresh meat and unpasteurized beverages. Whereas items like canned beverages and chocolate are often temperature controlled for quality so they would not be subject to this rule as long as they are in closed containers.
- Responsible parties
The rule affects people and organizations transporting human and animal food by truck or rail. It outlines parties as shippers (including 3PLs), loaders, receivers, and carriers (specifically truck and rail). Entities can be defined as:
- Shipper – Arranges for transportation by a carrier or multiple carriers sequentially. Could be a manufacturer, broker, warehouse, or other entity. Several parties may assume the role of a shipper for a single load.
- Loader – A person loading the trailer.
- Receiver – A person unloading the trailer.
- Carrier – An entity that physically moves the food by rail or motor vehicle.
Shippers need to have written policies and procedures in place for products. Carriers are also required to have written policies and procedures about how to handle instructions from shippers; they also need to train employees on general sanitary practices and internal procedures.
- STF’s staggered release
Officially, business with more than $25.5 million in annual receipts or those that employ more than 500 people should be in compliance with the STF rule by April 2017; all organizations smaller than that have until April 2018 to comply. That said, many shippers are expecting compliance from all carriers, no matter their size, by April 2017.
- Restating current best practices
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stated this rule is not intended to impose significant new requirements in the industry—in fact, the industry is already completing most steps within the rule. The rule is simply a restatement or formal recognition of industry best practices with the addition of a documentation requirement.
Because most organizations already follow these general behaviors, we don’t expect to see a lot of material change relative to the safe transportation of food in the United States. If you have questions about the rule or how it will affect your business:
- Visit the FDA’s website.
- Work with your logistics provider.
- Watch this six minute video of Chris McLoughlin, risk manager at C.H. Robinson, discussing the rule.
Jason has over 20 years of industry experience and a deep understanding of government policies. He monitors regulatory and legislative issues impacting the transportation and produce industries for C.H. Robinson. Jason is member of the Minnesota Freight Advisory Committee (MFAC) and serves as an election judge in the City of Minneapolis.