The Reusable Packaging Association (reuseables.org) has established a new industry-wide committee to establish sanitation standards and guidelines for reusable containers used throughout the food supply chain. The RPC Food Safety Standards Committee will include membership and input from providers of reusable plastic containers (RPCs), retailers, growers, and shippers.
The reusables industry already has rigorous cleaning and testing protocols that meet or exceed accepted standards, and these have proven to be highly effective,” says Paul Pederson, director of food safety & compliance, IFCO Systems, and committee chair. “However, we want to establish common and public standards that will further increase confidence in the sanitation and food safety of RPCs.”
Pederson said the initiative was driven in part by retail supporters of reusables who need documented guidelines to share with members of their supply chains. Currently, the providers of reusables and cleaning services follow their own individual sanitation and food safety standards. Their practices are not made public and likely vary by provider. The three major providers of RPCs (IFCO Systems, Tosca Ltd, and Polymer Logistics) are all members of the committee and will work to determine best practices, and then agree to follow them in order to increase food safety.
Additional members of the committee are ORYX Automation and Label and Barcode, Inc. More companies are expected to join as the work gets under way. “We will incorporate input from retailers, growers, and shippers so that the outcome reflects the needs of all the players in the supply chain,” says Pederson.
“This committee is a great example of the value of the RPA,” says Robert Engle, Chairman of the RPA Executive Committee. “Only the RPA can bring together a cross section of the supply chain – and competitors – to develop stronger standards that will benefit the entire industry. The RPA and its members are committed to providing a safe and cost effective means for moving food from point of origin to the end user.”