Food retailers and their freight carrier partners will face new technical, financial, and operational requirements that will be phased in starting in 2023 when safety regulators formalize a list of 16 sensitive food types that must be kept in precise temperature ranges during transportation.
Known as Section 204, the new list from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will add to current mandates under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that require shippers and carriers to ensure that certain foods stay cool during transit.
The change will happen in January 2023, 60 days after the final rule is published this November, but the FDA will give companies a period of two years to comply, according to iFoodDS, a Seattle vendor of software solutions used by produce companies to manage food safety data programs. That means that retailers, wholesalers, and their trading partners must maintain records of every movement of the specific food categories from the point of origin to the point of sale to the consumer, beginning in 2025.
The FDA compiled its list by comparing the risk factors for a wide range of food types, based on their frequency of outbreaks, severity of illnesses, likelihood of contamination, and other factors. The resulting list of 16 “high risk foods” incudes certain cheeses, vegetables, fish, crustaceans, and ready-to-eat deli salads.
Looking at the new regulations, supermarket trade group the National Grocers Association (NGA) today said it had named ReposiTrak Inc. to be NGA’s traceability and supplier compliance partner. Utah-based ReposiTrak offers cloud-based risk mitigation tools that provide automated compliance management. The firm was co-founded by Leavitt Partners, a company led by Michael Leavitt, a former Secretary of Health & Human Services, to address the expected rise in regulatory requirements associated with the FSMA.
The NGA said that once Section 204 is published, it will take time to adopt new technology and change processes to fully implement end-to-end traceability. The trade association says it will use the new partnership to provide resources for that process as its members prepare for the switch.
“Food safety is of paramount importance to independent grocers and their supplier partners,” Greg Ferrara, NGA president and CEO, said in a release. “NGA’s partnership with ReposiTrak is the latest in a series of ongoing initiatives to enhance value for our members by sharing best practices in an area that’s crucial to safeguarding the hard-earned trust that retailers and manufacturers have with consumers.”