Port Jersey Logistics (PJL), a Monroe Township, N.J., warehousing and distribution company, was one of five company members of the International Warehouse Logistics Association (IWLA) to meet recently with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials currently determining legislative details of the pending Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Held in Washington, the meeting served as a forum to assist in the rule-making process surrounding preventive controls for food contamination.

The gathering was seen as an important step toward helping FDA officials fully understand the role of third-party logistics warehousing in the overall food supply chain. The IWLA group expressed support for the FDA’s initial conclusion, which found that warehouses with food handling limited to already-packaged products be exempt from developing hazard analysis and preventative control plans, largely because many controls already exist in the industry’s current operating guidelines.

To date, the FDA has concluded that the proposed Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMP), a set of revised requirements regarding the storage of packaged foods, is sufficient to prevent contamination, meaning exempt facilities would not be subject to the potentially costly hazard analysis and preventive controls referenced in the FSMA.

Facilities such as Port Jersey Logistics’ warehouses are bound by CGMP, which covers a wide area of proper food handling to best ensure products are free of contamination. Such warehouses are routinely inspected by state, county and local health boards to assure compliance and other auditors including independent inspection organizations.

The ruling could save logistics companies and their customers hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional compliance costs. Port Jersey says it is also a testament to FDA’s recognition of the important role CGMP guidelines play in preventing potential contamination of packaged food products. This also points out the need for e-commerce companies involved in the sale of packaged food products to ensure that their order fulfillment company is FDA-registered and follows the appropriate CGMPs, it states.

“As part of the IWLA group, I was honored to have the opportunity to meet with FDA officials to emphasize our agreement with strengthening rules that protect food, without enacting unnecessarily stringent measures that could adversely affect costs throughout the supply chain,” adds Lou Keating, executive vice president of Port Jersey Logistics. “We’re confident that the end result will be common-sense legislation that is both pro-consumer and pro-business.”