The Uniform Food Safety Transportation Protocol (UFSTP) is available to motor carriers that will need to comply with mandates from shippers and their broker agents under the new U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rule governing the sanitary transportation of human and animal food.

The rule published earlier this year requires compliance by major shippers and receivers – those with 500 or more employees – and their agents beginning in April 2017 with the entire perishable food supply chain compliant by April 2018.

Drafted in consultation with refrigerated and agricultural carriers, brokers, shippers and refrigerated warehousing firms, the UFSTP represents an effort to establish uniform standards for delegating responsibilities to carriers under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) for the transportation of perishable food. The Protocol is published and managed by compliance support firm TransComply for adoption by carriers of all sizes and is modeled loosely after the Uniform Intermodal Interchange & Facilities Access Agreement (UIIA).

Carriers participating in the UFSTP will certify to shippers and brokers that they are familiar with and will comply with FDA’s requirements for cleaning of equipment, training of personnel, recordkeeping, and refrigeration. In the absence of industrywide acceptance of uniform commercial terms, the FDA rule likely will lead to conflicting contracting terms that would frustrate the ability of carriers to contract for the movement of perishable commodities in the spot market.

“The UFSTP establishes much needed standards for compliance with FSMA and we enthusiastically support the protocol,” said Jim Morse, chairman of Refrigerated Food Express, a carrier, and RFX Inc, a broker, both based in Avon, Massachusetts. “It’s our hope that the shipping community embraces the Protocol because it is reasonable and in the best interests of all stakeholders.”

To participate in the Protocol, carriers will need to complete an application and pay a nominal annual participation/ maintenance fee; sign the Protocol warranting their agreement and compliance with the UFSTP’s terms and conditions; and arrange for transmission of certificates of insurance to TransComply. A listing of participating carriers with contact and insurance information will be freely available to shippers, brokers, and others at www.ufstp.com.

“Participating in an arrangement such as the UFSTP will be essential for small and medium-sized carriers in particular as they do not have the time or expertise to negotiate a myriad of individual agreements with shippers and brokers or to manage their compliance with those obligations,” said Avery Vise, president of TransComply. “Without the Protocol, the FDA rule could present a serious challenge to the competitiveness of small independent refrigerated carriers.”