The concept of supply chain logistics has received a great deal of attention since the nation has faced the challenges of the pandemic. When consumers see the unexpected empty shelves in grocery stores, it is hard to take their ready availability for granted. This has helped focus the spotlight on the whole subject of food and how it is transported.
A Century of Attention
However, for those in the trucking industry, the process of safely transporting food and food products from farms and producers to end consumers has long been an important topic. One of the earliest uses of trucks was transporting these items to the rapidly growing cities and urban areas. What has evolved is a far cry from those ancient days of trundling farm products a few miles to the local towns.
The role of commercial truckers in safely transporting foods across the nation and to local markets is so critical and is covered by numerous laws and regulations. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration was assigned the primary responsibility for governing the transportation of foods under the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act. Even with this act and a host of safety procedures, experts estimate at least 48 million individuals are sickened, and at least 3000 of these die, from foodborne diseases each year.
To minimize these dangers, the FSMA mandates specific requirements in all areas of food transport, including:
- The use of certified and validated equipment
- Pre-cooling of all refrigerated equipment used
- Full temperature telematics and controls
- Detailed and readily accessible records of temperatures and shipment information
- Comprehensive training and oversight of drivers and other team members
These factors make it both necessary and a legal responsibility to comply with all aspects of inbound and outbound transportation of foodstuffs.
The Only Acceptable Approach is the Safe Approach
Simply put, assuming the responsibility of shipping and receiving food and foodstuffs requires far more than a truck and a driver. If you are currently involved in the logistics chain with any aspect of food transport, or if you are just entering this market segment, it is vital to ensure your trucking services provider is fully compliant with all aspects of the process.
Take the time to evaluate how your products are handled at every point in the logistics chain. When you evaluate your trucking firm, check out the following and ask:
- What is their safety and damage record? While it is impossible to totally avoid cargo damage, ask what the firm demands as a culture from its team.
- What is the shipping capability and capacity? Can the firm you select meet your schedule and deliver on time or do they expect you to comply with their schedules?
- Do the protocols, technologies, and record keeping provided meet or exceed all requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act? You will be held accountable for shipments that are out of compliance and/or create any health and safety issues.
- Do they control their equipment? Only an asset-based carrier can provide the assurance that its trucks meet all safety and maintenance requirements, including sanitation and uptime.
- Does the equipment utilized meet the requirements for food grade utilization? Are aluminum floored vehicles available? A truck is not a truck nor a trailer a trailer when used for food transportation: it must meet specific requirements and must avoid cross-contamination issues.
- Are all temperatures monitored consistently at all times with full remote controls? Even small variances in temperature monitoring can require the write-off of a full shipment of food products.
- Are the firm’s drivers professionally trained and supervised? The constant changes in truck rules and regulations, including their use for food transportation, requires a management team that monitors these requirements and ensures they are communicated to their drivers.
The best way to protect your customers and your brand is to use a transportation partner that takes pride in its role as a safe and fully compliant shipper. When it comes to food safety, there are no shortcuts.
Check out our food transport page for more information on how Road Scholar can help.