Wooden pallets can easily become a source of foreign matter if not correctly controlled. In Week 16 of the Food Safety Challenge you are tasked with a couple of different actions around the control of wooden pallets. For the majority of food businesses, wooden pallets are used to store raw materials, store work in progress or store finished product. Looking at the potential for foreign matter contamination from this source, is there a risk in your food business?
Week 16 of the Food Safety HACCP Challenge
The Challenge set this week is to inspect your wooden pallets for splintering. Wooden pallet splintering can become an issue when the splinters pierce through product packaging. They can also break off and end up in packaging. In your warehouse area if you have pallet racking in place, any damaged wooden pallets stored above one another can fall down onto the top of product stored below.
Hazard Identification for Wooden Pallets
If you are using wooden pallets anywhere in your food business, I would expect (as an auditor) that you have considered this as a potential hazard. The following is an example of how this would be written in your HACCP Plan.
Hazard: Wooden Splinters
Category: Foreign matter / Physical Hazard
Source: From wooden transport and storage pallets
How do you control the hazard of wooden pallet splintering?
For a lot of food businesses it may not be feasible to eliminate wooden pallets entirely from the production site. Because of this, control measures need to be implemented to reduce the occurrence of this hazard so contamination of the finished product and raw materials is avoided as much as possible. The most common measures implemented to control wooden pallet splinters include:
- Putting a robust barrier layer between the wooden pallet surface and the raw material or food product.
- The use plastic pallets where possible and if affordable with the direct production environment
- Regularly rotating, inspecting and removing damaged wooden pallets.
To ensure that the condition of wooden pallets are regularly reviewed and assessed, make sure that you have included a visual check in your daily, weekly or monthly GMP inspection.
How did you go? Does your food business have an issue with splintering wooden pallets? Have you ever received complaints or non-conformances for the condition of your wooden pallets? Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.