When a load of produce is recalled because of potential contamination, what’s a trucker to do?
That’s the question the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has been asking the U.S. Food and Drug Administration since September 2006. That’s when an E. coli outbreak traced back to bagged spinach left many truckers “holding the bag,” so to speak, due to lacking federal regulations to protect drivers when they are hauling and handling potentially contaminated produce.
This question and many more have remained unanswered, but Joe Rajkovacz, regulatory affairs specialist for OOIDA, found out Friday, March 30, he will get the chance to ask these questions in person on April 13 at an FDA public hearing on the safety of fresh produce at the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition in College Park, MD.
“This public hearing is a huge opportunity for the Association to inform the FDA what federal regulations need to be put in place to protect our members when and if something like this happens again,” he said.
Rajkovacz said key players in the debate on whether to allow the produce industry to regulate itself or to impose mandatory federal oversight have largely excluded a key link in the food supply chain – the truckers.
“The FDA needs to be enlightened about the food contamination issues that affect produce haulers, and that federal oversight is the only viable solution to address all issues related to microbial contamination of food,” Rajkovacz said.
– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer