Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA): The Basics

04/06/2020 by Christine Griffith

Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA): The Basics

Foodborne diseases are preventable and the reason why the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) put the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) in place.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) each year foodborne illnesses cause;

  • 48 million or 1 in 6, people in the U.S. get sick,
  • 128,000 to get hospitalized,
  • and 3,000 deaths.

The above statistics made the FDA realize how big of a deal foodborne illness has become and that something needed to change. Thus, came the addition of FSMA to regulations.

What is FSMA?

FSMA was finalized in April 2017 and built upon the 2005 Sanitary Food Transportation Act (SFTA). There were concerns about the regulations for the transportation of food in a safe manner. Foodborne illnesses could be prevented during transportation by reducing common safety risks such as;

  • the failure to keep temperature-controlled food refrigerated,
  • inadequate cleaning of vehicles between loads,
  • and protecting food from contamination.

How Does FSMA Apply to…..

…Transportation and Logistics?

Food manufacturers and transportation companies that they work with must operate compliant and clean equipment, have operational processes in place, training to prevent food contamination, and keep records of anything on food safety measures.


Under FSMA, shippers are the ones who arrange the transportation of the food product(s). This includes food manufacturers and the freight brokers they may work with. Shippers must understand the regulation, partner with a transportation company that is compliant, and communicate any food safety requirements with the companies they work with. They are responsible to ensure vehicles and equipment are in sanitary conditions deemed acceptable by the FDA. They must specify temperature and pre-cooling requirements in writing to the carrier and ensure that their cargo doesn’t make food unsafe for bulk shipments.


Motor carriers must determine that their vehicles and equipment are sanitary. Carriers are responsible for making sure the equipment meets the shipper’s requirements and is able to maintain the temperatures needed to keep food safe. Refrigerated cold storage has to work and be pre-cooled to the correct temperature as instructed before loading. They need to maintain temperature records and proof of equipment cleaning for all cargo that has been on their equipment.

…To Receivers?

Receivers must provide washing facilities to motor carriers if they are handling, loading, or unloading any foods that are not enclosed. Additionally, they must request proof of proper temperature-control records before accepting.

Having Well-Trained Staff

Training on FSMA regulations and processes should make staff aware of the role they play in food safety. FSMA compliance needs to be part of the company’s culture and day-to-day operations.

Record Everything

The FDA requires that accurate records are kept. This includes processes in place to stay compliant and prevent contamination, training, agreements including FSMA, or temperature-control records.

Violations Are a Serious Matter

Companies can face criminal penalties if food is not handled safely and are not compliant with the FDA’s regulations. Criminal violations can include fines of up to $250,000 for an individual or double that for organizations, as well as one year of imprisonment. It is critical to stay FSMA compliant to keep recalls at a minimum.

Shipping temperature-sensitive items? Check out our Temperature Shipping Guide. 

Choose Like-Minded Transportation Partners

Food safety issues still occur on a regular basis, so it is important to stay FSMA compliant. Part of that is in choosing a transportation partner that stays on top of regulations and focused on food safety.

Trinity Logistics understands the requirements that are necessary to be FMSA compliant and we verify that our vetted and selected carriers meet those standards as well. We strive to remain ahead of the curve and stay up-to-date when it comes to food safety in transportation. If you are looking for a 3PL provider you can trust when it comes to food safety regulations, such as FSMA, connect with us.