TIA Awaits Final Rule on FDA Proposed Rules

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released their seventh and final major rule required by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) last January, directly addressing the sanitary transportation of human and animal food. This has been a much-anticipated rulemaking since President Obama signed the bill into law in 2011. While the proposed rule does not specifically affect Department of Transportation (DOT) licensed property brokers, as one of the largest users of motor carriers, the brokerage industry will be required to play a significant role in the implementation of these rules.

A DOT licensed property broker will likely be required by their customers to have knowledge of the rules, and make thorough business decisions by contracting with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) compliant motor carriers and railroads on their behalf. As previously mentioned, the proposed rule does not specifically mention DOT licensed property brokers, but there is a section within the proposed rule asking industry stakeholders for suggestions of other “parties” that should be subject to these requirements, and the best defense is a good offense.

The FDA is proposing to establish requirements for shippers, motor carriers, railroads, and receivers engaged in the transportation of food, including food for animals, to use sanitary transportation practices to ensure the safety of the food they transport. The proposed rule would not cover shippers, receivers, or carriers engaged in food transportation operations that have less than $500,000 in total annual sales. In addition, the requirements in the proposed rule would not apply to the transportation of fully packaged shelf-stable foods, live foods, animals, and raw agricultural commodities (RACs) when farms transport RACs.

In direct response to the FDA releasing this proposed rule, the Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA) launched a Food Advisory Committee. The Committee held several conference calls, attended and spoke at FDA public listening sessions, participated with other industry stakeholders on multiple coalitions, and had a private meeting with FDA officials on the role of the broker in the supply-chain.

The Food Advisory Committee spent considerable amounts of time examining the proposed rule and identified three areas of concern, which included: enforcement and penalties, small company exemptions, and an increase in cargo claims due to the proposed rule.

Additionally, the committee developed language, on the role of the broker in the supply-chain, and how Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) licensed property brokers fit into this proposed