The main focus of the Food Safety and Modernization Act, which moves into its fourth year of practice this year, was to develop standards that food and beverage
processors and suppliers can adhere to so,
collectively, we can take steps to proactively
prevent food contamination. FSMA was
developed to improve upon the industry’s
previous approach — responding to an outbreak of food borne illnesses after they had
By establishing federal guidelines and
setting-up safety parameters throughout
the supply chain, at every touch-point, the
industry can adhere to a common standard.
It’s given us a more efficient way to eliminate potential problems before they reach
the public, and, indeed, before they even
enter the logistics stream. The retroactive
measures enacted in the past did little more
than respond to a problem that had already
occurred. That resulted in potential harm to
the public and product recalls costing the
industry billions of dollars in lost sales, legal
expenses, reduced consumer confidence
and a drain on productivity.
Today, as in the past, standard operating
procedures decree that anything moved into
a food production area is moved on a pallet.
I’ll repeat myself. Anything. Not some food,
not a majority of a product. Anything. Pallets
touch everything at every point along the way.
This can introduce significant risk if these
pallets have not been specifically designed
for sanitation, efficient use in a facility’s operations and adherence to FSMA. Consider,
though, that captive, plastic pallets today do
not introduce risk. Rather, these pallets are
a manageable resource that can actually be
used to eliminate risk.
Enter the reusable plastic pallet.
Food and beverage companies are im-
Implementing Plastic Pallets
plementing these pallets at an increasing
rate. Reusable, hygienic plastic pallets are
designed to be easily sanitized, non-porous
and cleanly move and store food products
within a facility, supporting overall sanitary
conditions. That gives businesses a tre-
mendous opportunity to make a difference
— delivering a consumer-safe product
quickly and efficiently to the marketplace,
therefore increasing profitability, enhancing
safety, increasing consumer confidence and
saving those dollars that used to collect in
Packaging equipment must meet a series
of criteria to be considered sanitary and
useful for a facility’s operational standards.
This ensures repeatable performance and
seamless interface with equipment day in
and day out. Reusable plastic pallets have
dimensionally consistent characteristics so
your system runs efficiently and cleanly. Your
1. Be cleanable
2. Be made of materials specific to
the application requirements (ie FDA-approved, etc.)
3. Be accessible for inspection, cleaning
4. Contain no space for liquid collection
5. Have no hollow areas
6. Contain no niches
7. Be non-porous as to not absorb moisture or odor
8. Deliver sanitary operational performance
9. Support validated cleaning and sanitizing protocols
10. Have the ability to sort and separate.
For allergen control, loads need to be stored
separately. Packaging can be color coded to
support allergen control procedures.
Keep this checklist of expectations in
mind when introducing plastic pallets
into your operations and supply chain.
If you’re making a change to reusable
plastic pallets, understand those basics.
And, equipment and personnel should be
trained to meet hygiene and sanitation
standard operating procedures.
Next, consider how some of the latest
innovations accommodate supply chains
and facilities that need to regulate to
FSMA requirements. It’s easier than ever
to make the switch to reusables and the
benefits go far beyond better accountability for contaminants.
What to Look for
For pallets in the food and beverage
industry, ease of cleaning is top of mind.
It’s important the pallet manufacturer
minimizes the surface area to be cleaned.
Reusable plastic pallets used within the
food supply chain should be designed
with non-porous material that does not
absorb moisture. One-piece designs with
no crevices, cells, hollow area or cavities
eliminate the potential for contaminants
to collect, regardless of pallet orientation
(upright, stacked, on floor, etc). An open
deck pallet means flow-through cleaning
and quick drying, to get the pallet back
into your supply chain with little downtime.
Ways Plastic Pallets Can Impact
Cleanliness and Drive Change
Bob Klimko, Director of Marketing, Food and Beverage, ORBIS Corp.