Are you doing everything you can to make sure your customers comply with food safety regulations? The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) of 2011 is the most comprehensive reform of the United States’ food safety laws in more than 70 years. FSMA was designed to ensure the safety of the U.S. food supply by shifting attention from contamination events response to prevention measures that protect the public and ensure that food is unadulterated. The legislation impacts all aspects of the U.S. food system, from farmers to manufacturers to importers, and is a legislative mandate requiring comprehensive, science-based preventive controls across the food supply.
The FSMA 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 safety1. The rule’s goal is to prevent practices during transportation that create food safety risks, such as failure to properly refrigerate food, inadequate cleaning of vehicles between loads, and failure to properly protect food.
Food transportation and delivery are critical points for growers, transport professionals, facility managers, chefs, grocers, and sanitation professionals within the food transport industry, as they seek to identify measures to keep equipment and vehicles cleaner between cleanings. The nature of food transport and delivery processes creates opportunities for contamination of surfaces by microbes from various sources such as the environment, food residues and human contact. Use patterns, re-use of items for multiple purposes, soiling, moisture, and lapses in cleaning and sanitizing procedures can further exacerbate conditions created by initial contamination.
Several measures are used to control microbial contamination, survival, and growth on food transport and delivery surfaces. These include physical and chemical barriers, temperature control, as well as routine washing and sanitization of surfaces. However, there can be lapses in these procedures warranting measures of protection beyond management control.
Sanitary equipment design (SED) has been identified as a key component of any food safety program. In 2014, the American Meat Institute (AMI) outlined ten SED principles to guide food equipment design, construction and use. The AMI recommends that food equipment be designed to prevent bacterial ingress, survival, and growth on both product and non-product contact surfaces of the equipment. Also, equipment construction should ensure effective and efficient cleaning over the life of the equipment. Construction materials used for equipment must be completely compatible with the product, environment, cleaning and sanitizing chemicals and the methods of cleaning and sanitation2.
As standards for food transport equipment and supplies continue to evolve, incorporation of technology into equipment designs that meet or exceed legislative mandates will be key. Suppliers and manufacturers at various stages along the food service supply chain are partnering to develop innovative solutions to comply with regulations.
In this four-part article series, we will more closely examine the microbiology of food transport and delivery equipment and review components of a proactive, systems approach to maintaining cleanliness of these surfaces.