Necessary requirements for refrigerated transportation business

Lance Surety offers expert insight on freight broker bonds and explains the rules you should know for refrigerated food transportation Doylestown, Pennsylvania, US: The public depends on refrigerated trucks to ensure local grocery stores are well-stocked with the produce, meat, dairy products, and frozen goods people rely on as food staples. The nation's food supply heavily depends on cold transportation to prevent food-borne illness and ensure refrigerated and frozen items arrive safely.

Freight brokers are responsible for ensuring that the trucking carriers they connect with shippers for the transportation of refrigerated and frozen goods meet the regulatory requirements for transporting these types of goods. Here are the requirements that apply to refrigerated trucking companies that you should know. Why Should Freight Brokers Know the Refrigerated Transportation Requirements?
The Food and Drug Administration finalized its food safety rules under the Food Safety and Modernization Act (FMSA) in 2018.

This rule governs the safe transportation of food and applies to shippers, freight brokers, and transportation companies. Under the rule, freight brokers are treated the same as shippers, and they are responsible for ensuring the transportation companies they connect with shippers have the required equipment and processes in place to comply with the regulations. Freight brokers are required to get a freight broker bond as a condition of obtaining a license.

This bond guarantees that you will follow the law in how you conduct your business operations, including the duties you have under the FDA's food safety rule. If you fail to comply with your duties under this regulation, a claim could be filed against your bond. Excessive or unpaid claims could result in the loss of your bond and your license to operate, making it critical for you to know the requirements for refrigerated transportation if you broker these types of goods in transit.

Food Safety Plans
There should be a food safety plan in place for the shipment that includes details about the following things:

  • Minimum and maximum temperature requirements
  • How the temperature will be monitored during transit
  • Corrective actions for temperature deviations
  • Instructions for segregating goods for mixed shipments to avoid cross-contamination
  • Procedures for loading, safe storage, and transport of bulk food products
  • Sanitation and equipment cleaning procedures.

Cold Storage Requirements
The transportation company must have trucks that meet the FSMA's rules for temperature control and monitoring, along with cooling compartments that can be pre-cooled before picking up loads. There must also be a system in place for the truckers and company to monitor the temperatures of the cold storage unit to ensure that the perishable goods remain at a safe temperature during loading, transportation, and unloading. Different types of food shipments might have different temperature requirements that should be addressed in the food safety plan.

The truck that will be used should have the capability of maintaining the desired temperature range, and protocols should be defined for when and how the interior temperatures will be monitored. Under the new rule, it is not enough for a truck to have a cold storage compartment. Instead, the rule requires that there is a system in place that allows the company to document that the temperature requirements have been met so that they can prove it if audited.

Sanitation Requirements
Shippers and brokers have the responsibility of ensuring the equipment that will be used is in a proper, sanitized condition. The cold storage compartment must be thoroughly sanitized in-between loads, including all contact surfaces. Before goods are loaded, the equipment must be inspected to ensure that it has been properly sanitized.

The pre-loading inspection must be documented. The interior of the trucks should be free of flakes and rust and corrosion-resistant. There should be inspection protocols in place to ensure the trucks and equipment are maintained in a sanitary, safe condition.

For mixed loads, different types of foods must be segregated to prevent cross-contamination during loading. Raw foods should be segregated from ready-to-eat products, and food items should be segregated from non-foods. Food should also be segregated from products containing allergens.

There should be written procedures in place to ensure that the equipment that will be used is in a properly sanitized condition. There should also be written procedures for ensuring that the trucks have been properly sanitized to prevent a previous shipment from making the food unsafe. The written protocols should differentiate between what is considered to be sanitized vs. clean.

The transportation company should only use food-safe chemicals to sanitize the interior to prevent contamination from the use of inappropriate disinfecting agents. Training
Transportation companies should have training programs in place to ensure their employees are fully trained in the requirements of the FSMA food safety rule. This training should address all of the standards and the respective duties of each involved party.

This training should be documented, and the carrier should keep records of it. The training should include components on sanitary best practices, recognition of food safety hazards, and the workers' duties under the rule. Carriers must maintain the training records for their employees for at least 12 months after their employment ends.

You should ensure that the transportation company you connect with a shipper also has trained its workers. Record-Keeping
Freight brokers and shippers must maintain thorough records of all cold storage shipments they completed. You must maintain records of each refrigerated food shipment for at least 12 months after a contract with a carrier ends.

As a freight broker, you are considered to be akin to shippers under the FSMA rule. This means that you are required to comply with the duties under the rule that apply to shippers. You should ensure that your employees also understand the regulatory requirements and should have thorough policies and procedures in place that address how you will confirm that the shippers and carriers with which you work also comply with the rules.

You should communicate the safety procedures the shippers follow with the carriers that will transport the goods. Freight brokers, shippers, and carriers must all understand the rules and fully comply with them. If you are involved with brokering food shipments in the U.S., this includes complying with the FSMA food safety rule.

If you violate this rule, you could face claims against your freight broker bond and significant fines and penalties.