ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA, U.S.— The American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) on Sept. 13 highlighted the Safe Feed/Safe Food (SF/SF) Certification Program’s requirement that certified facilities have signed agreements with suppliers detailing the clean-out and inspection procedures for the transportation of feed and feed ingredients in recent comments to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

FDA issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) as part of its implementation of the 2005 Sanitary Food Transportation Act (SFTA) of 2005 early this year to request data and information on the food transportation industry and its practices.

"AFIA expressed concern on the ability of feed and ingredient manufacturers to get information on previously hauled loads, especially by independent truckers and rail carriers," said Keith Epperson, AFIA’s vice-president of manufacturing and training. "Many companies own and maintain their own vehicles for transportation of products. This gives the company complete control over the vehicle with regard to feed safety."

Generally, rail carriers are either unwilling or unable to provide information on previous loads carried in rail cars. For this reason, the SF/SF program requires inspection of rail cars by ingredient suppliers prior to loading. AFIA suggested to FDA that transporters should be required to maintain at least the previous suppliers’ records and items that were hauled in the containers and make them available to subsequent purchasers of products shipped in those containers.

In addition, AFIA submitted a letter as part of a coalition of several industry associations. The coalition shares FDA’s commitment to promoting public health by reducing "risks to human or animal health associated with the transportation of food."

The coalition believes that the public health and consumer protection objectives of the SFTA will be best served by improved compliance with existing requirements through enhanced enforcement, guidance developed jointly by industry and FDA, and outreach programs.

The available information indicates that food transportation practices that comply with existing FDA requirements are appropriate and, most importantly, effective, and that food transportation practices that violate existing FDA regulations are responsible for the four identified cases of foodborne illness that have been linked to food transportation practices over the past three decades.