FOR MANY years foodgrade tank truck carriers and manufacturers have worked within the perimeters of strict sanitary standards, but after fears arose across the nation about terrorist threats to the food chain, those standards became even more stringent.
Today, concerns are being voiced by the tank trailer industry about new standards issued by 3-A Sanitary Standards Inc (3-A), a non-profit association representing equipment manufacturers, processors, regulatory sanitarians, and other public health professionals. 3-A oversees the development of standards related to hygienic equipment.
Steven McWilliams of Walker Stainless Equipment Company provided an update on the issues at the National Tank Truck Carriers 2006 Cargo Tank Maintenance Seminar in Nashville, Tennessee. He discussed a 3-A standard that addresses a third-party verification (TPV) program, as well as one related to clean-in-place (CIP) equipment and another regarding foodgrade tank trailer vents.
The TPV program was officially launched in September 2003. Ultimately, all equipment using the 3-A symbol (renewals and new symbol authorizations) will undergo the TPV inspection requirement.
“Under the new standards, a TPV will be conducted every five years for each symbol holder — the TPV for manufacturers was due in 2006,” McWilliams said. “The new TPV program requires independent verification of the designs, quality control system, and manufacturing facility by a certified conformance evaluator. This person must be certified by 3-A to conduct independent verification to ensure that equipment showing the 3-A symbol conforms to the 3-A standard.”
Because concerns have been raised by some in the industry, a Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association (TTMA) task group has asked 3-A for the policy on used equipment be clarified regarding whether the 3-A symbol can stay with the tank trailer when it is sold.
TTMA also voiced concern about just what an owner can repair or replace on a 3-A tanker without voiding the 3-A symbol and how to certify a used 3-A tanker if the original material certification and design details are not obtainable.
The issue involving CIP equipment addresses permanently-mounted spray balls and if they should be authorized. “There are differences of opinion because of problems in inspecting them,” McWilliams said.
Turning to vent discussions, he said that some of the evaluators/inspectors have voiced concern that the vents available for foodgrade tank trailers may not be compliant with the new 3-A TPV policy. “This has created a delay in tanker manufacturers obtaining their TPV until this is resolved,” McWilliams said. “It may be that a new 3-A standard will have to be created to cover these tanker vents.”
To date the 3-A tanker standard, #05, is undergoing a five-year review that will clarify CIP equipment in tankers. A new 3-A standard for tanker vents is under development.
3-A has agreed to issue a letter of interpretation that states the 3-A symbol will stay with the equipment when it is sold to a second owner. In addition, to address concerns with the repair of equipment, a proposal for a 3-A practice covering repairs is being developed.