New FDA Regulations Spur New Interest in Plastic Pallets
21 Aug 2015
The food industry supply chain is set for revolutionary change aimed at preventing food-borne illnesses and infections, as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) introduces new regulations in the wake of the 2011 Food Safety Modernisation Act (FSMA).
This has sparked some serious concerns among many food companies that have been waiting to see what the new rules will entail when they are introduced, rather than preparing for them.
The high damage rate of wooden pallets and their propensity to carry bacteria and other infections have made them less popular with many food and logistics companies. About a quarter of wooden pallets in use become damaged, compared with just 1.5% of plastic pallets. And the plastic pallets also come with a major storage advantage when they are nested. There is also no risk of workers encountering dangerous splinters and loose nails.
Final Rules Due at the End of August
The FDA is set to roll out its final rules for FSMA compliance on August 30. Food companies will have up to three years to comply with the rules, and implementation is expected to be costly unless the companies plan for it in time.
There will be seven new rules which the companies must assess first and determine how these regulations will apply to their specific circumstances. They have to determine how their company stands with respect to each one. From this point, the company has to map out a route for achieving full compliance.
One of the most important gaps that the food retailers have to fill in will be about their own suppliers. They will have to understand all of the risks involved in their supply chain and cease business with those suppliers that are deemed risky.
The new rules require far greater control of the food supply chain. This includes the monitoring of stated temperature controls as the goods move from one stage to another along the chain. The entire chain, from the original producer to the final customer, has to be monitored.
This type of control is unlikely to be achieved without traceability technology. Without such technology, a retailer will not have any way of knowing what has happened along the supply chain.
Traceability consultants believe that larger companies do not necessarily have an advantage over smaller companies in implementing these regulations. Indeed, the smaller and mid-sized companies could have an advantage, as they are more flexible organisations that can adapt to change.
Plastic pallets will be the greatest winners as the traceability technology is implemented, because the necessary software can be fitted into the structure of the pallet.