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January 20, 2014 4:00 AM, EST

Letter: Safer Food Transport

This Letter to the Editor appears in the Jan. 20 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, like many politicians in Washington, hastily reacted to a media report in his home state before researching and understanding the background and facts about safety regulations and precautions in the truck transportation of food.

As former executive director of the Agriculture and Food Transporters Conference of American Trucking Associations, I was involved in many of the developments in food security/safety and legislative initiatives regarding federal legislation in this area of the transportation of food by truck. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s expertise does not include food safety.

Regulations are currently housed in the proper federal agencies — the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service and the Food and Drug Administration. There is no need to involve FMCSA in this regulatory process.

Both USDA and FDA are involved in the trucking industry in the development of federal regulation, and the private-sector component of the trucking industry was significantly involved in industry-developed guidelines to be utilized in secure and safe transportation of food by truck.

The USDA/AFTC security guidelines booklet (Guide for Security Practices in Transporting Agricultural and Food Commodities) was a successful public-private partnership. However, it did not receive the wide distribution that would have made it as maximally effective as it should have been.

Brown’s remarks were directed specifically at the transportation of food by truck. Provisions in the Food Safety Modernization Act became law in January 2011. This has been long enough for complaints to be initiated and regulators to promulgate rules to implement this extensive and diverse piece of legislation.

There are provisions in FSMA that directly affect the safe transportation of food by truck.

It would seem feasible, logical and advisable for AFTC to thoroughly examine this issue and provide both legislative input and educational materials for its members. The transportation of food by truck is a significant component of the trucking industry, the nation’s food distribution chain and the total U.S. economy.

Fletcher R. Hall

Ruxton, Md.