Food and Beverage TMS Ensures a Safe Transport
The FSMA was enacted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to promote the rule for the “Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food” and was prompted by an upswing in reported foodborne illnesses in the early 2000’s. While the FSMA also regulates the way food is grown, harvested and processed, this latest rule under the FSMA – which took effect for large businesses on April 6, 2017 – focuses squarely on the transportation of food and beverage products.
While all shippers and third-party logistics providers (3PLs) face any number of challenges in managing their transportation strategies, for those that transport food and beverage products it can be especially challenging to ensure they are meeting the stringent shipping requirements to keep food safe. Carriers must ensure proper climate controls for items that must be kept cold or frozen, and that the vehicles and equipment used to transport food are kept clean at all times. Specific mandates under the FSMA call for measures to prevent ready-to-eat food from touching raw food during transport, and protecting food from contamination by non-food items that have been transported in the same or previous load. At the same time, shippers must navigate the complex scheduling requirements for transporting food to ensure the highest levels of freshness that consumers have come to expect – especially when it comes to perishable goods.
Another level of growing complexity? As consumers’ palates have expanded to include more international flavors, the demand for shipping food from around the world has also increased. The FSMA also provides for ensuring the safety of international food and beverages shipped to the U.S., essentially requiring that imported foods should be held to the same safety standards as foods grown or produced domestically.
Technology Ensures Compliance, Drives Efficiencies
With all these unique shipping challenges and ever-changing legislation, it’s not surprising that many food shippers and 3PLs rely on technology – and specifically a Transportation Management Solution – for navigating these complexities. Selecting the right carriers can be crucial for any shipper, but can be especially critical when transporting food products and addressing regulatory compliance. The MercuryGate TMS can identify which carriers are in compliance with the FSMA – and perhaps more importantly, which carriers are not in compliance – helping you to avoid costly penalties while also ensuring product integrity.
Ideally, a TMS will provide you with a single platform for all modes – ocean, air, rail, truckload, less-than-truckload, and parcel. With the ability to integrate inbound, outbound and reverse logistics across all modes of transportation, you are able to optimize your entire supply chain. And, while some TMSs do not support parcel, the MercuryGate TMS architecture includes parcel capabilities to provide for flexible delivery options – especially important when dealing with changing retailer demands.