Handling & Liabilities for Intermodal Transport of Human & Animal Food Blog Feature
Rick LaGore

By: Rick LaGore on April 7th, 2017

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Handling & Liabilities for Intermodal Transport of Human & Animal Food

Intermodal | otr | truckload | Freight Capacity Challenges

intermodal trainThe FDA published the FSMA Rule on Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food.  The regulation established requirements and liabilities for shippers, loaders, carriers and receivers involved in the transportation of human and animal food. 

This blog is a summary of a Union Pacific bulletin that is specific to intermodal shipments on rail-owned containers.  The FSMA regulation contains other requirements that are not relevant to intermodal shipments on rail-owned containers, so if your company ships other modes further research will be required.  

The regulations do not apply to:

  1. Food that is trans-shipped through the United States to another country.
  2. Food that is imported for future export and is not distributed or consumed within the U.S.
  3. Food that is completely enclosed by a container and does not require temperature control for safety.
  4. Human food byproducts transported for use as animal food without further processing.
  5. Live animals.
  6. Transportation performed by a farm.

 Intermodal BoxEquipment Owner Responsibilities:

  • Equipment must be designed to be suitable and constructed in a way to be easily cleaned to prevent food from becoming unsafe.
  • Equipment must be maintained in good condition to prevent food from becoming unsafe.
  • Equipment must be stored in a manner to prevent it from harboring pests or becoming contaminated in any way that could result in food becoming unsafe.

 Carrier Responsibilities: (rail or dray carrier)

  • No responsibilities specific to carriers, although a  carrier can become responsible for conditions during transportation if it agrees, in writing, to take responsibility from the shipper.  With that said, be aware of what is within the service agreement.  Shippers could always choose to pass this liability as a requirement to move their freight.

 Shipper Responsibilities: (broker, manufacturer, IMC, etc.)

  • Ensure equipment is in appropriate sanitary condition to prevent food from becoming unsafe.
  • Shippers have additional responsibilities for temperature controlled shipments and bulk shipments, which are not applicable to rail owned containers.

 Loader Responsibilities: (person who phyiscally loads the cargo on the container)

  • Ensure shipper’s specifications are met before loading food, including inspecting equipment for cleanliness and integrity of the container itself.

 Receiver Responsibilities:

  • Only specific responsibility is related to temperature controlled shipments, which is not applicable to rail owned containers. 

Training Requirements:

If the carrier and shipper agree in writing that the carrier is responsible for any sanitary conditions during transportation, then the carrier must provide training for personnel that provides an awareness of food safety during transportation and responsibilities under these rules. 


Carriers must maintain records of written procedures and agreements that are subject to the rules. 

In an attempt to further ensure the safe transportation of food, effective April 3, 2017 food shipments applicable to the new regulation will be considered a restricted commodity on railroads.  Reference MITA item 520 for further information regarding the restriction of food shipments.

IMC's (intermodal marketing companies) will need to identify these shipments via the billing process and container/trailer must be sealed with a minimum 3/16 cable or bolt seal.  The identification allows railroad to notify shipper of a potential food shipment contamination and will drive bottom well loading, when possible.   

Please reach out to us if there are further questions or concerns via www.intekfreight-logistics.com or Request A Consultation

 intek freight & logistics


About Rick LaGore

Rick is the co-founder and CEO of InTek Freight & Logistics, a company focused on being the place where companies come when faced with a logistics problem.

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