The Association of American Railroads, data provider Railinc and agricultural shippers have joined forces to create an online portal aimed at improving visibility for covered hopper cars.

The portal will provide shippers with information that will help them prevent potential cross-contact with food allergens and conform to food safety standards, the group said.

The portal, which should launch in late 2021, aims to better identify the last contents hauled in a particular railcar. It will include a secure and searchable interface, developed by Railinc, that uses companies’ unique industry knowledge and management of critical industry systems. These systems track nearly all the equipment in the North American rail fleet as well as the commodities transported.

The portal’s functions will help agricultural shippers meet and comply with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s food sanitary transportation rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act.

“Thanks to funding and leadership provided by AAR and Railinc, agricultural shippers will have access to a reliable resource to obtain information on the last three loads hauled in railcars, which is crucial to food safety and regulatory compliance,” said National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) President and CEO Mike Seyfert. “NGFA also is grateful to the operational and technical experts representing industry users on a joint working group that was engaged at the outset in designing this new resource to ensure it has the functionality companies need.” 

In addition to AAR, Railinc and NGFA, other groups involved in the creation of this portal include the North American Millers Association, National Oilseed Processors Association, Pet Food Institute and American Bakers Association.

“This partnership means that agricultural shippers – and ultimately families at the grocery store – can have greater confidence in their products’ safety,” said AAR President and CEO Ian Jefferies. “As longtime, valued customers, railroads are proud to partner on this innovative solution and look forward to fully implementing the program.”

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