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FSMA Transportation: 5 Important Transportation Fixes for Healthier Compliance

Have you been wondering if there are any gaps in your food safety compliance plan? Are there any small details that could become big problems if not managed correctly?

Are the carrier contracts complete and up to date?

Is our Qualified Supervisory Person adequately supervising contract compliance?

Are food trailers clean and sanitary?

Are the transit temperatures properly specified and monitored?

Are transportation activities being documented and dated?

A few nights ago I happened to click on a Livestrong article that addresses the realities of belly fat and how to fix the problem and make it go away.

It caught my attention because I’m approaching my sixtieth birthday (yes, that’s SIX ZERO) and I have a lot of things on my bucket list that will be physically demanding. I’m not sure how belly fat happens for everybody, but I have a hunch that for me it’s the result of a few too many indulgences and way too many shortcuts in my exercise routine.

But that’s how things happen all the time, right? We think we’re paying attention, and maybe we are doing a good job with the urgent or obvious responsibilities and tasks. However, we tend to allow small, insignificant but nevertheless non compliant behaviors and practices get out of control.

In the Livestrong article, the author pointed out some common problems with how people try to rid themselves of excess fat. The good news is that there are fixes to those problems. As I read through them, not only could I see a path out of my belly fat dilemma, but I thought that their suggestions could be modified to help us out with improving our FSMA compliance so that we can be more confident that our programs are compliant.

Here are a few recommendations that we can use.

Problem 1: Endless Crunches

We can’t ‘spot’ lose visceral fat because, even though sometimes it seems most obvious around our midsection, the truth is that this type of fat is all over our body. Focusing on one area doesn’t really solve the overall problem.

Safe Food Application: Observe your entire FSMA community

It’s important to understand that when something keeps happening, for example, multiple arrivals at warm temperatures, or loads refused for unsanitary conditions, it’s probably not just a bad driver or dispatcher decision.

Look at the entire operation and evaluate who may have contributed to the problem, including the shipper, the cooling facility, the trucking company and maybe even the receiver. Everyone has a responsible role in this process. When the problem is viewed from all these perspectives, there could be multiple factors that are contributing to the problem.

Problem 2: Too Little Sleep

Going to bed and getting adequate good sleep is often way underestimated. But this body function is critical to our repair and replenishing and/or rebuilding after a day of work. Sleep can’t be considered a necessary evil, but rather a priority to our overall health.

Safe Food Application: Prioritize and make time for healthy FSMA communication.

One critical organizational function that often gets overlooked and sometimes marginalized is adequate communication. Yes, team members talk about operations, tasks, events etc, but what happens if someone sees an unsafe transportation situation? What’s the protocol for identifying and correcting risks as they arise? Is there support for the person who has noticed a problem and communicated it to a coworker and/or supervisor?

Problem 3: Not Doing HIIT (Or doing the same thing repeatedly without measuring results)

I have a relative that shared with me her frustration over the fact that despite a ton of walking on a daily basis, she was unable to lose weight. Smart Pam thought to herself, “Well, maybe you’re not walking fast enough, far enough or ‘something’ enough. And then I started realizing that I was having the same issue. I was walking, at a pretty fair pace, almost 3 miles. And yet, subtle but real weight gain.

Check out any professional resource about making sure to mix up our exercise, including adding high-intensity interval training, and most of them recommend NOT doing the same thing everyday.

Food Safety Application: Do something different

Start implementing activities or processes that have an actual meaningful impact on your safe food transportation programs. While this does not mean that your SOP’s can be set aside, different approaches to support compliance may provide your team with renewed energy and a fresh sense of purpose in meeting compliance requirements.

Examples may include incorporating a new protocol, taking a field trip to a loading or receiving dock, assign someone a project that can be presented and used for additional training.

The point is to do something different that positively impacts your compliance results.

Problem 4: Skip Resistance Training

What is that anyway? Using the word resistance in the same sentence as exercise sounds like work!

It turns out I was sort of doing this. Sometimes. But the training can be critical to build up strength and endurance. Learning how to implement different exercises will result in better performance and attain important goals.

Food Safety Application: Make the right thing easy.

After you are sure that the protocols and procedures will keep you compliant, make sure they are practical activities. It’s one thing to develop a set of activities that support your food safety plan. However, sometimes the activity is either misunderstood or not practical and/or doable. Teach, train and practice them so that everyone is familiar with the expectations.

Professional sports trainers can make an exercise look simple. But if an untrained aspiring athlete tries the exercise without proper training, he or she may get hurt, or be ineffective, or worse, stop doing the exercise.

It’s worth the time (and now necessary to FSMA compliance) to take a step back and look at what is actually happening in the organization. It’s probably not incorrect to assume that more learning and training in this particular area is overdue.

Problem 5: Eating Wrong

Ya, I pretty much knew that was coming. It’s normal when we get into an uncomfortable weight situation to take drastic measures to get things right again, for example slashing calories and substituting the right things like protein for foods with sugar and/or sodium. But then we trade foods that curb hunger or provide brain, hormone and cholesterol health for something that’s not even really food.

Food Safety Application: Don’t substitute, but strengthen safe food transportation protocols.

Honestly, sometimes more training is our ‘knee jerk’ reaction but it isn’t always the answer. It may be that more training is needed, but a different type of training would help your team be more successful. And checklists are necessary, but if not used correctly, they become covers for behaviors and habits that are not aligned with good safe food transportation practices.

Remember, the purpose of these ‘fixes’ is to address problems that are creating an unfit, non compliant organization.

What happens is that over time, allowing people to do the wrong things, or the right things at the wrong time, gives them the sense that what they are required to do is not important or has little impact on your organization.

Safe food transportation is not like the other FSMA rules. We don’t have a lot of science or data to support or improve our best practices. But we do have common sense, and the FSMA rule itself to guide us towards the right choices in implementing and maintaining FSMA compliance.

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