June 16, 2016

New FDA Regulations & How They Are Affecting Freight Brokers

Being a freight broker means you need to be ready for changes. And the time has come to reconsider some of the practices you are used to since there are new FDA regulations for freight brokers. The following guide will help you understand how some of these regulations are going to affect you.

A Break in Tradition

Freight brokers have never been the shippers. Your practice has always involved arranging transportation between the consumer’s goods and the shipping company. The idea is that freight brokers stayed neutral and did not touch the goods. This–in essence–is what has kept your work on a plateau, but it has changed due to new regulations passed by the FDA.

The new regulations are now labeling you and other freight brokers as shippers. This means you now have to worry about what shippers worry about, which boils down to regulations regarding sanitation and food safety.

Why Did These Changes Occur?

The truth is that many of these changes were introduced back in 2005, which were part of the Sanitary Food Transportation Act. But these rules were never truly implemented into the agency, so they did not truly affect carriers, shippers, or freight brokers. These laws are slowly being brought to the attention of lawmakers as of late.

There are many reasons why this may be happening, such as a growing public concern for food to be fresh and properly handled. A number of people want their food to be as fresh as possible. This could be a factor as to why many lawmakers began to take a second look at some of these regulations.

The changes could have also occurred because of the internet. There has been a change in the way that consumer’s goods are obtained. More people are ordering food online instead of going to their nearest grocery store. In fact, the internet has actually caused the foreign market to quadruple the growth of FDA-approved goods over the last 10 years. It was inevitable that the added responsibility was going to take its toll on freight brokers.

There may be other reasons, but these could be some of the reasons why congress and Obama were forced to revisit some of these regulations and put them into the Food Safety Modernization Act. This new act was signed in January 2011.

But what does this specifically mean for freight brokers?

What Kind of Changes Are Expected?

Though some of these changes are understandable, many freight brokers are afraid of this abrupt change. Keep in mind that brokers were simply not considered shippers before and do not have much experience in handling cargo in the way that food producers and shippers do

There are a lot of things that will be expected of you, such as the fact that you will have to heed the requirements to handle the cargo safely. This was something that brokers did not have to worry about before, and some are scared of the kind of delays that it might cause. Others are afraid of being liable should cargo be mishandled in their care; the cost will rest on them should they fail in any way to care for the cargo in accordance to the requirements.

Some of the smaller freight brokers are afraid that the added responsibility puts them in danger of losing their practice. This is because the cost of insurance, or possible lawsuits, now rests upon them. The cost of mishandling product could mean a rejection of the shipment, which would also rest upon the freight broker if the cargo was under their care.

Another change that you can expect is you will now have to make sure that the carrier is following rules as well. The broker must now inform the carrier of all the requirements set by the producer of the goods. One example of how far these changes are going is that brokers are now required to check if the carrier’s truck is pre-cooled before loading begins. This check must be written down and signed to ensure that it was performed according to the new regulations. Keep in mind that most producers do not specify that a carrier must have pre-cooled the truck before loading the produce.

You should remember that any mishandling will be considered a violation, which could make the entire cargo moot. This is because the regulations for you, producers, and carriers states that violations make the food dangerous. Sure, this is true about mishandled food, but food that went through a degree change for a brief moment should not be considered mishandled. But the regulations do not allow for errors, even as small as a slight degree change.

In short, there are a lot of changes coming your way, and they resemble the kind of strict responsibilities you might expect as a carrier or producer.