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Cleanliness Issues Arise Thanks to New Food Safety Laws, iGPS Launches New Sanitation Service
Pallet Contamination: Plastic pallet pooler, iGPS, launches new pallet sanitizing process that can reduce contaminants from previous loads by 96%. How will the Food Safety Modernization Act change how end users look at pallets and transport packaging?

By Chaille Brindley
Date Posted: 2/1/2018

Plastic pallet pooler, iGPS Logistics, now offers a pallet so clean you can almost eat off it. Utilizing a food contact surface sanitizer, iGPS can now reduce contaminants from previous loads by an average of 96% according to the company. This new service is designed to deliver direct food contact level safety for its pallet customers.

iGPS had developed this process to improve the safety of food logistics and food-related packaging. The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) has put a spotlight on the importance of reducing contaminants in the supply chain. Generally, pallets are viewed as transportation platforms that are not designed for direct food contact. Protective packaging around the food or pharmaceutical products create a layer of protection between the pallet and the individual food product.

But iGPS wants to go further than industry norms as a way to differentiate its pooled pallet and logistics services in the marketplace. Industry experts have stated that 5,000 – 10,000 CFU (colony-forming unit of Aerobic Plate Count bacteria) per sampling swab are acceptable levels of sanitization for pallets. Testing on the sanitized iGPS plastic pallets showed consistently at less than half these minimum acceptable levels.

 “This sanitization process is the latest step in bringing our clients the best possible products, solutions and services that focus on food safety and hygiene, that maximize cost savings,” said Jeff Liebesman, CEO of iGPS Logistics. “The testing results of the new process are truly extraordinary – iGPS now offers customers a level of cleanliness beyond industry standards or current capabilities.”

Has iGPS engineered a solution that is innovative or unnecessary? Hygiene is important to the fast-moving consumer goods supply chain. But usually the contamination results because of the failure of product packaging or fork tine damage not the pallet itself. Most food or agriculture items are shipped on pallets with boxes, bins or other forms of packaging. There are cases when a pallet can be contaminated and should be sterilized between uses. But it can be difficult to know for sure what has been on a pallet.

The iGPS solution removes any guesswork about previous contamination and can provide a customer certainty about pallet sterilization. But is this a value-added service that customers will pay more for? It will take a while to know how the food logistics sector responds. For now, it appears that the pallet is only a secondary issue.

The company stated, “iGPS is proud to be the driving force of change and innovation…The world’s only multi-use pallet to receive NSF Food Equipment Certification, iGPS’ platform is a major advance in supply chain hygiene—a platform that can easily be cleaned. It will not absorb fluids that can lead to contamination and never requires treatment with toxic pesticides or fungicides.”

Marketing this new sanitized pallet does draw attention to the risk of contamination. One way to eliminate the concern is by using a new pallet for each trip. Another way is to sanitize pallets between uses. Let’s be clear: the FSMA does not mandate the use of a particular pallet. Instead this legislation focuses on developing best practices and monitoring in the agriculture and food supply chain. Government inspectors are looking for filth or evidence of contamination on a pallet, rotten smells or even leftover food remnants stuck on a pallet, etc.

When it comes to logistics, transport equipment and packaging, the FSMA focuses on improper food refrigeration and cold chain storage, inadequate vehicle cleanings between loads and improper food/produce protection. New rules governing food transport practices went into effect last year for larger producers (companies with 500 or more employees or $27.5 million or more in annual revenue).

Smaller companies, those under the above threshold, must comply by April 6, 2018. For more information on compliance with the FSMA, visit https://www.fda.gov/downloads/Food/GuidanceRegulation/FSMA/UCM553930.pdf. For more information on iGPS, visit its website at www.igps.net.

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Pallet Contamination