Trucking Food Safety Program

The Trucking Food Safety Program (“TFSP”) may soon become the new standard for transporting food products. Carriers may want to consider following this voluntary program or implementing their own HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Controls Points) plan to increase their competitive advantage and facilitate their compliance with any future legislation adopting similar principles.

The TFSP adopts the principles of the HACCP program, which aims to control major food risks, such as microbiological, chemical and physical contaminants to enable the food industry to better assure consumers that its products are as safe for consumption “as good science and technology allows”. (*1)

The HACCP  program requires manufacturers of certain food products to maintain HACCP plans. These plans aim to identify potential hazards associated with the food production, packaging, storage and transportation process that are likely to cause contamination and illness. Once identified, the plan sets out ways to control and/or prevent those hazards. Having a carrier who complies with the TFSP is beneficial to shippers because it diminishes their concerns regarding contamination hazards to their product in one more link of the supply chain. (*2) HACCP became mandatory in Canada in 2005 for federally registered meat and poultry establishments. (*3)

Benefits of Participating in the TFSP

The TFSP consists of food safety prerequisites, the development of standard operating procedures and commodity specific modules that will enable carriers to prove that they have taken all reasonable steps to ensure food safety and support a shipper’s HACCP food safety plan. (*4) TFSP-compliant carriers will appear more appealing to customers, will be recognized as using industry best practices and improve their competitiveness in cross-border food transportation as HACCP is recognized as the internationally accepted standard for food safety. (*5)

Hazard Control & Food Safety Legislation: Canada and the US

In the United States, new requirements recently came into effect for the food industry, representing “the first major overhaul of US food safety regulations since the [previous] rules were written in 1938.” (*6) The previous program was based on a “see, smell, touch” approach which relied on detection rather than prevention of hazards. (*7)

The Food Safety Modernization Act (“US Act”) became law in the United States in 2011. In September 2015, the first two major Rules under the US Act have been finalized and will become effective November 16, 2015 (Rules on Preventative Controls in Human and Animal Food). There are also proposed Rules regarding Accreditation of Third Party Auditors, Amendments to Registration of Food Facilities, Standards regarding Produce, Food Supplier Verification Programs for Importers, and the Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food.

Under the Rule on Preventative Controls in Human Food (“Preventative Controls Rule”), certain facilities must implement a food safety system that includes hazard analysis and risk-based preventative controls. The Preventative Controls Rule establishes requirements similar to HACCP, including the following for each type of food manufactured, processed, packed or held at the facility: a written food safety plan, hazard analysis, preventative controls, monitoring, corrective actions and verification, supply chain programs, recall plans and record keeping. (*8)

The purpose of the proposed rule on Sanitary Transportation is to prevent practices that create food safety risks, such as failure to properly refrigerate food, inadequate cleaning of vehicles between loads and failure to property protect food during transportation. (*9) The rule will set out standard requirements for the following: the design, cleaning and maintenance of vehicles and transportation equipment; measures taken during transportation such as adequate temperature control and separation of food from non-food items; information exchange; training of carrier personnel in sanitary practices; and record keeping. (*10)

The proposed rule on Foreign Supplier Verification Programs for Importers of Food for Humans (“Verification Rule”) aims to require importers to perform certain activities to help ensure that the food they bring into the US is produced in a manner consistent with US standards. (*11) Under the Verification Rule, when there is reason to believe that a hazard will cause serious injuries or death, a clear, rigorous verification standard is required in the form of annual on-site auditing of the supplier. Otherwise, importers will have the flexibility to determine the appropriate verification measure based on food and supplier risks.

Implementing the practices proposed under the US Act will facilitate carriers’ compliance with US law and provide a competitive advantage where US shippers require HACCP certified carriers under their Preventative Controls Rule plan. The Sanitary Transportation rule will be mandatory for shippers, carriers and receivers who transport food to and in the United States with some exceptions, such as food that is transshipped through the US to another country.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (“CFIA”) has indicated that they are working closely with the US Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) “toward achieving food safety system recognition between Canada and the US. (*12) As noted in the September 2015 Fernandes Hearn LLP Newsletter, the Safe Food for Canadians Act (“Canadian Act”), which is not yet in force, aims to better protect Canadians from risks relating to food safety by implementing stronger food safety rules, more effective inspection methods, and increased penalties for contraventions of the Canadian Act. As with the Verification Rule under the US Act, the Canadian Act requires importers to be licensed and is meant to hold them accountable for the safety of the foods that they are bringing into Canada. In addition, the regulations under the Canadian Act intend to prescribe elements required for a food safety control plan, similar to HACCP.

Currently, establishments that process, inspect, package, freeze and store meat products, among other activities, must develop, implement and maintain HACCP plans and other control programs as set out in the Food Safety Enhancement Program Manual. (*13) Similarly, establishments that process, store or export fish are required to maintain an HACCP plan. (*14) While HACCP plans are not mandatory in federally registered dairy, processed product, egg, honey, maple and hatchery establishment, the CFIA strongly recommends that these establishments adopt HACCP, which suggests that regulations implementing hazard control plans may become law in the future (*15) Carriers who comply with HACCP will be more appealing to these customers by giving customers the piece of mind that the transportation of their product will comply with their HACCP plan.

Carriers should consider implementing a HACCP plan of their own or participating in the TFSP to increase their competitive advantage and facilitate compliance with future legislation that may make HACCP mandatory for the transportation industry or the industries of their customers.

Jaclyne Reive

(*3) Ibid.
(*5) Ibid.
(*7) Supra note 1.
(*10) Ibid.
(*13) Meat Inspection Regulations, 1990 SOR/90-288 s30.1
(*14) Fish Inspection Regulations, CRC, c 802, s 15(6)(c)

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