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FDA ruling strives to cut allergen recalls

10 August 2016  •  Author(s): Roy Manuell

A new rule laid out by the Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food Rule, falling under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Food Safety Modernization Act sets out an updated set of safety expectations for the bulk transportation of food.

allergen-FDA-foodsafety

The law which came into effect in June is explicit in its aim to cut out ‘cross-contact’. What is meant by this is the contamination of food by means of residue left in transportation vehicles which might lead to the transfer of allergens, a decision with which major producers must agree to by April of next year while smaller companies will be allowed an additional year to do so.

The ruling grants the FDA the power to seize food if standards are not met

Until this ruling, the FDA had no officially-entrenched power to regulate vehicles with respect to the allergen risk when transporting goods. Congress has now granted this authority.

The details of the ruling specify measures such as a hand washing and the separation of potential allergens but crucially outline the responsibility of the shippers (those who arrange for its transportation) and carriers (those who physically move the produce) of developing procedures to protect cargo from contamination.

The ruling further grants the FDA the power to seize food if standards are not met and if further non-compliance is evident then statute prosecutions and fines might ensue.

In essence the decision from Congress strives to reduce the event of mass food recalls, both costly and inconvenient for both producer and consumer and it is widely thought that ‘cross-contact’ and contamination is most likely to happen during the transportation process.

Despite the fact that the ruling does not extend to ‘cross-contact’ cases on farms, under general law, the FDA still has authority to declare unfit produce if a farmer is acting irresponsibly in the transportation of produce.

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