The US Food and Drug Administration has made available up to $19 million in fiscal year 2016 funding to help states support implementation of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) produce safety rule.

This funding opportunity announcement (FOA) issued March 17 enables states to submit applications for funding to plan and develop state programs needed to support successful implementation of the produce safety rule through farmer education, technical assistance, inspection, and other activities to foster and support compliance. The produce safety rule was made final in November 2015.

Transportation requirements related to FSMA are to be issued around March 31, 2016, though enforcement will not begin until March 31 2017.

An article by Sean Kilcarr of Fleet Owner magazine warns that refrigerated carriers will need to take the initiative in food safety compliance, which will involve more than just temperature data compliance:

New food safety rules headed towards the transportation industry at the end of the month will force refrigerated carriers to make a bevy of operational changes—and those changes may need to be made well ahead of the 2017 compliance date set for those mandates, according to Hugh Latimer, COO for Iron Apple, a food safety compliance firm.

“It’s coming down sooner than that, because shippers are demanding it,” he told Fleet Owner. “Shippers are the ones held responsible under the new [food safety] rules.”

The reason refrigerated carriers are in the crosshairs, however, is that the requirements transfer a lot of transportation risk and responsibility for food safety during transit to them, Latimer stressed.

“You must prove that you are following [safety] protocols now; you must prove you are washing trailers between loads, what cleaning agents you are using, and what training your drivers have received and are practicing,” he emphasized.

The produce safety rule establishes science-based standards for growing, harvesting, packing, and holding produce. This rule includes requirements for water quality, employee health and hygiene, and standards for compost and manure.

“This funding is an important step toward providing states the resources they need to be full partners with FDA in implementing one of our most important new food safety rules,” said FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine Michael R Taylor. “Our collaboration with states is crucial to the successful implementation of the produce safety rule because state regulators have a better understanding and knowledge of the specific growing and harvesting practices in their areas and already have long-standing relationships with local produce growers and associations.