New Food Safety Rules Pose Impact for Refriderated Carriers

The final rule for the Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food (STHAF) was published in the Federal Register on April 6, 2016. This final rule became part of the Code of Federal Regulations on June 6, 2016, and is located at 21 C.F.R. Sections 1.900-1.934.

Final rule due March 31, with enforcement to begin in 2017.

Are You Ready for the New Food Safety Rules? 

The STHAF arose out of the Sanitary Food Transportation Act of 2005 and Food Safety and Modernization Act of 2011. The STHAF addresses preventive principles for keeping food safe, uncontaminated, and unadulterated during transportation. It is important to note that the rule is designed to address and maintain the SAFETY of food, not to ensure the quality of freshness.

What You Need to Know About the New The Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food Regulations (STHAF)

You have likely heard about the Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food Regulations (STHAF) but may be wondering what exactly they entail. Not to worry, here is a quick overview of what you need to know.

Who’s Impacted?

The regulations apply to carriers, loaders, receivers, shippers and even brokers who carry and handle food in the United States by vehicle, whether or not the food is presented for or enters regional business. It also applies to shippers in other nations if the food will be disbursed or circulated in the U.S.A.  However, the rule does not apply to exporters who dispatch food through the United States (for example, from Canada to Mexico) by motor-powered or rail vehicle if the food does not enter U.S. supply.

  • In short, foods that are not ultimately destined for the American consumer are not regulated by these laws.

What are the Requirements?

  1. For vehicles and transportation equipment: Vehicles and transportation equipment must be appropriately and sufficiently cleanable for their planned use and must be capable of retaining temperatures essential for the safe transportation of foodstuffs. It is, of course, expected that the vehicles be kept clean and maintained with care.
  1. For transportation operations: The requirements ensure complete food safety during transportation, with regulations outlining satisfactory temperature controls, the prevention of ready-to-eat food touching raw food, protecting food from impurities which come from non-food items in the same load or even a previous load, and protecting food from cross-contact. 
  1. Training: Training of employees in sanitary shipping practices and certification of the training is required.  All food shippers, transporters, etc. are to be trained on food safety and shipping practices.
  1. Records: Maintaining records of written procedures, agreements and trainings over the last year is required.
  • For instance, records for the above mentioned training would be available for review.

Requirement Waivers

Several waivers’ provisions are still in process and will be published prior to the final compliance date. The waivers are being granted to segments of the industry that fall under different regulatory umbrellas such as:

  1. Grade A milk and milk products can be shipped without following these regulations because the FDA recognizes that controls for such transportation procedures already exist under the NCIMS program, with FDA oversight.
  2. Food establishments where food is sold as retail and is not cooked. The FDA understands that controls for such shipping operations at present exist under the Retail Food Program, and FDA supervision.
  • An example would be packaged coffee headed to a café.
  1. FDA will reconsider their thinking of an additional waiver for molluscan shellfish for those with permits under the National Shellfish Sanitation Program.

When Do These Regulations Go into Effect?

For Small Businesses – small businesses must comply within 2 years (until April 6, 2018) of the regulation’s publication. This includes companies other than motor transporters who are not shippers and/or receivers and who retain fewer than 500 employees. It also includes motor carriers having less than $27.5 million in yearly revenues.

Other Businesses –other businesses must comply within 1 year (until April 6, 2017) of the regulation’s publication. This will include carriers with more than $27.5 million in annual revenue.


The following are the exemptions to these regulations.

  1. Food coming through the United States, but in route to a different nation.  Its final destination is not the U.S.
  2. Again, foods that are not intended for commerce in America are not held to these standards. Therefore, foods that are shipped into the U.S. with the purpose of later being exported are not held to these rules.
  3. Carriage of compressed food gases and food contact constituents.
  4. Transport of food that is totally sealed in a container excluding, of course, a food that requires temperature control for public safety and welfare. Prepackaged cookies are an example of a food that would not be held to these standards.
  5. Carriers, shippers, and receivers who transport food and bring in less than $500,000 per year.
  6. Carrying of human food derivatives transported for use as animal food without additional handling.
  7. Transportation of living food animals, except molluscan shellfish.
  8. Activities implemented by a farm.
  9. Frozen food.
  10. Food located in facilities regulated exclusively by the USDA under the Federal Meat Inspection Act, the Poultry Products Inspection Act, or the Egg Products Inspection Act.
  11. Carriers that transport food while operating as a parcel delivery service.
  12. Portions of shipments (air, ocean, lake, river, or canal) that do not include highway or rail.

It is always essential to know the laws and codes of practice that will impact your career.  However, when you are transporting and handling food, you are being entrusted with many peoples’ safety so it is of extra importance that all employees, managers and other responsibility parties understand and adhere to these laws. The Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food Regulations (STHAF) basically aim to increase the safe handling of food for U.S. citizens.

For more information:

FDA Food Safety Modernization Act

Copy of the final rule