The Regulation of Sanitary Food Transportation in the United States: A Slow Journey on a Long Road

March 2008

63 Food and Drug Law Journal 35-74 (2008).

In contrast with the numerous regulations enforced by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture on food processors, manufacturers and distributors, there are relatively few rules governing the sanitary transport of food.  In the past two decades, transport-related safety incidents have prompted interest in additional rules and regulations.  However, these efforts largely have been hampered for many reasons, from misdelegation of responsibility to lack of agency resources.

Some sectors of industry have responded independently and undertaken safety measure voluntarily.  Some new food safety rules also address food transport concerns, although often as an afterthought.  Recently, responsibility for regulating food transportation has been reassigned to FDA, which, although perhaps well-suited for the job, lacks the necessary funds.  Yet, while some concerns have been addressed tangentially, this central fact remains: The law remains largely the same as it was in 1990.

This article highlights the technical and logistical considerations involved in transporting food, reviews the history of the regulation of food transportation in the United States and provides an analysis of current law.


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