The National Grain and Feed Association said Monday that the Food and Drug Administration's proposed rules implementing the sanitary food transportation provisions of the Food Safety Modernization Act could require some significant changes.
FDA's proposed rules would apply to shippers, carriers and receivers transporting agricultural commodities, food, feed and feed ingredients, and other agricultural products by truck and rail.
A draft of the rule was first released in February. It marks the seventh and final major rule in the FDA FMSA's push toward preventive food safety measures across the food system.
In comments to FDA, NGFA said that FDA's plans first should not undermine the fundamental responsibility of carriers to comply with their statutory obligation to provide conveyances that are clean, appropriate and in safe condition suitable for the type of human or animal food intended to be shipped.
"This legal obligation is reasonable because the carrier or other provider of the transportation conveyance is in the best position to monitor the use of transportation conveyances and equipment, know the contents of the previous load(s) hauled, and implement prudent and effective clean-out procedures to protect product safety," the NGFA said.
Though concerned about basic requirements, NGFA commended FDA for not applying the proposed rules to barge and vessel transportation. The group was also supportive of FDA's decisions to not prescribe specific sanitation practices for clean-out of rail and truck transportation conveyances and equipment.
Without the specific requirements, shippers, carriers and receivers the flexibility to continue to utilize appropriate sanitary transportation practices that have evolved over time, NGFA said.
The NGFA also strongly supported FDA's decision not to restrict access for human and animal food to certain classes or types of rail or truck conveyances or transportation equipment, which it said was particularly important given constrained U.S. transportation capacity and severe rail service disruptions.
The NGFA urged FDA to grant three additional exemptions from the proposed regulations to cover: transfers of human and animal food between facilities operating under the ownership of the same legal entity, which NGFA said typically have dedicated fleets for moving specific products; Dedicated rail and truck transportation conveyances and transportation equipment used to haul the same type of human or animal food on a continual basis; and transportation of live food animals, which already is subject to the jurisdiction of the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service.
The NGFA also asked FDA to make numerous other changes to its proposed regulations, which are detailed in its official statement.