A Total System Approach: The FSMA and Food Transportation

A tractor trailer driver unloads a shipment from a Great Dane refrigerated trailer

The food supply chain is a complex system. More than 200 billion metric tons of food are transported throughout the world every year. From shipping fresh albacore off the coast of Oregon to transporting dairy products across Tennessee, there are a huge number of considerations that need to be fully understood and followed to fulfill FSMA requirements.

Food Transportation Requirements

One of the largest pieces of regulatory legislation is the Food Safety Modernization Act.  This 2011 rule on Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food is one of seven foundational rules proposed to create a modern, risk-based framework for food safety.

There are specific requirements for vehicles and transportation equipment within the FSMA. All vehicles involved with food transportation must be designed and maintained appropriately to prevent microbial contamination.

Food transportation companies have a number of concerns when transporting food products safely, including:

  •   The quantity and variety of foods transported
  •   Container requirements
  •   Temperature requirements
  •   Food handling requirements for each food product

Contamination Risks and Food Transport

Food storage and transportation rely on a complicated network of regulations and inspections, and it is vulnerable at many points to contamination. Risk factors for transit contamination include:

  •   Temperature abuse
  •   Unsanitary cargo areas
  •   Improper loading or unloading procedures
  •   Shipping containers in ill repair
  •   Poor transportation unit design and construction

Safeguarding sanitation and microbial quality of equipment surfaces during food transportation is a complex issue that requires a practical, systems-based approach. This system includes risk surveillance, materials choice, routine cleaning, and monitoring. When considered as a total approach, this collection of measures creates the best possible protection for food transportation.

High-Risk Food Sectors

The food sectors with the highest overall risk are:

  •   Raw seafood
  •   Raw meat and poultry
  •   Refrigerated raw and ready-to-eat foods
  •   Eggs and egg products
  •   Frozen foods
  •   Fresh produce

While hauling any type of food cargo requires care, extra safety precautions should be taken with these high-risk foods.

Choosing Surface Materials for Food Transport

Surface material choice should be informed by microbial survival and growth rates. Materials infused with added antimicrobials protect the material itself against deterioration, odors, stains, and often against pathogenic bacteria.

Different types of materials (steel, different polymers and paper) and different types of antimicrobials are used, and the antimicrobial compound may be incorporated throughout the materials or added as a coating on the surface.

In a systems-based approach, incorporation of antimicrobials into surfaces supports risk assessment, proper cleaning, and monitoring of surfaces. Microbial recovery is a useful measure for risk evaluation, choice of surface materials and monitoring microbiological quality of surfaces.

Trailer Safety and Microban® Technology

Great Dane includes Microban Technology* to actively fight stain-and-odor causing bacteria. Our exclusive PunctureGuard and ThermoGuard reefer liners have the protection of Microban Technology for the life of the trailer—it won’t wear or wash out.

We want every Great Dane customer to have the best tools for hauling cargo. If you’d like to find out more about how Great Dane’s solutions can help your business, contact us today! 

Want to learn more about the specific requirements of FSMA? Check out the previous post (Part 2) in this four-part series.


*Microban® technology is not designed to protect users against foodborne illnesses or disease-causing microorganisms. Microban Products Company makes neither direct nor implied health claims. Normal cleaning practices should be maintained.