Effective [December 13, 2016], the new American Uniform Food Safety Transportation Protocol (UFSTP) is available to carriers who will be required to comply with mandates from shippers and their broker agents under the new U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rule governing the sanitary transportation of human and animal food. The regulation applies to perishables entering the U.S. from Canada for distribution in The States as well as domestic U.S. loads.
Backstory: In 2011, the U.S. Congress passed the Food Safety Modernization Act, including a requirement that FDA issue a rule to ensure that food be free from contamination throughout the transportation process. In April of this year, FDA issued said rule. Basically, the rule covers the transportation of food that either; (1) requires temperature control or, (2) is not fully enclosed.
The UFSTP provide a clearinghouse for carriers to declare their acceptance of those requirements and provide to shippers and brokers evidence that they are authorized, licensed and insured. This is important because shippers and brokers often have relationships with thousands of carriers for spot-market freight, and none of the parties have the time or money to manage a compliance process for one-off loads.
If carriers apply and are approved, they would be listed as UFSTP participants on the website, providing assurance to shippers and brokers that carriers are complying with the requirements they must delegate under the rule.
The rule published earlier this year requires compliance by major shippers and receivers – those with 500 or more employees – and their agents beginning in April 2017 with the entire perishable food supply chain compliant a year later.
Carriers participating in the UFSTP will certify to shippers and brokers that they are familiar with and will comply with FDA’s requirements for cleaning of equipment, training of personnel, recordkeeping, and refrigeration. In the absence of industrywide acceptance of uniform commercial terms, the FDA rule likely will lead to conflicting contracting terms that would frustrate the ability of carriers to contract for the movement of perishable commodities in the spot market.
Although the FDA rule technically exempts carriers with less than $500,000 in annual revenue, shippers undoubtedly will expect carriers regardless of size to adhere to common standards.
“The UFSTP establishes much-needed standards for compliance with FSMA and we enthusiastically support the protocol,” said Jim Morse, chairman of Refrigerated Food Express, a carrier, and RFX Inc, a broker, both based in Avon, MA. “It’s our hope that the shipping community embraces the Protocol because it is reasonable and in the best interests of all stakeholders.”
To participate in the Protocol, carriers will need to complete an application and pay a nominal annual participation/ maintenance fee; sign the Protocol warranting their agreement and compliance with the UFSTP’s terms and conditions; and arrange for transmission of certificates of insurance to TransComply. A listing of participating carriers with contact and insurance information will be freely available to shippers, brokers, and others at www.ufstp.com.
“Participating in an arrangement such as the UFSTP will be essential for small and medium-sized carriers in particular as they do not have the time or expertise to negotiate a myriad of individual agreements with shippers and brokers or to manage their compliance with those obligations,” said Avery Vise, president of TransComply. “Without the Protocol, the FDA rule could present a serious challenge to the competitiveness of small independent refrigerated carriers.”