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Hazards of Storing Pallets Outside

pallet pest control storage non-food

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#1 lroche

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Posted 08 October 2014 - 06:00 PM

Our pest control company was at our facility today doing the weekly inspection/update to our traps and bait stations. The woman from the pest control company (who is the same as every other week) mentioned that we should not be putting our extra wooden pallets outside on the ground. We are a coffee manufacturing facility so our product is very low risk, and we are located in southern California where weather is extremely mild. 
Has anyone ever heard this before? Is there a regulation stating how the extra pallets should be stored? 


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#2 stim

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Posted 08 October 2014 - 07:05 PM

I don't think that there would be a specific regulation prohibiting pallets outside, but you have to be able to prove that there is no/limited risk to storing them outdoors.

 

I would be concerned not about the climate damaging the pallets themselves, but the pests and debris that can contaminate pallets left outside.

 

Do you have a program in place to clean the pallets once they are brought back into your facility?


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#3 Setanta

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Posted 08 October 2014 - 10:50 PM

It may be mild, but birds will roost in these pallets, they will cover them with feces and you run the risk of attracting other pests as well. Do you want to ship your product out of pallets covered by bird poop? If we receive any pallets like that in our shipments, the whole truckload is at risk of being rejected.

 

I would think finding a good storage solution would be easier than cleaning pallets.


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#4 Snookie

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Posted 08 October 2014 - 10:50 PM

Plants generally try to keep them inside to prevent pest harborage and bringing pests into the plant when the pallets come in. 


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#5 Nancy@Masser's

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Posted 09 October 2014 - 11:38 AM

We are also a low-risk product and store most of our pallets and wooden bin boxes outside.  We do this due to space being an issue at our facility and we have no way of storing them indoors or under cover.  We have an SOP in place for checking pallets for contamination before bringing them into the building.  We also use a cardboard slip sheet placed on the pallet before we start stacking product on it. Auditors have never questioned us on our pallet storage (nor has our pest control company).  Best practice would be to have them under cover, but if space or some other reason has you storing them outside, than have a program in place to assure that they aren't dirty before you start using them.


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#6 srm

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Posted 09 October 2014 - 01:00 PM

There are multiple issues with outside storage. Harborage of birds, their nests and fecal matter. Insect harborage, potential nesting and fecal matter. Heat treated pallets only kill the initial insect larva but does not technically protect from termites. Damp wood from overnight dew or rain can lead to mold/mildew propagation.

 

Either one of these issues can get you a complaint from your customer base. Even having an inspection process is not going to create a level of food safety that most customers would expect. Internal storage of pallets with separation of returned and new materials is a requirement from many food customers. Any third party auditor who sees this practice will at least comment if not make an observation in my experience.    


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#7 Tony-C

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Posted 10 October 2014 - 01:53 AM

Hello Iroche,

 

It is not unusual to store pallets outside although most would prefer to store inside.

 

The usual requirement is to inspect before use, I personally prefer to clean although then you need to make sure that the pallets dry out.

 

Normal practice is to use a layer pad to prevent contact with the product outer packaging.

 

With low risk products I would expect to see inspections and a layer pad.

 

Regards,

 

Tony


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#8 Jim E.

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Posted 29 October 2014 - 06:31 PM

Pallets outside are a neccessity for some, like us.  We use about 500 pallets a day in our facility so we cannot store indoors.  We inspect them all as they come into the plant. We also as you can imagine have a pretty high turnover with our pallets receiving truckloads every few days.  So infestations and roosting are kept to a minimum. Our auditors have commented on this issue regularly but we show our inspection procedures and they let it go.  If we ever received a non-conformance from a GFSI audit that would be just cruel.


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#9 Mr. Incognito

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Posted 29 October 2014 - 07:07 PM

There is contamination you may not be able to see on pallets stored outside such as salmonella, e coli, etc.

 

Also if you use them and through the food product stream it goes to another plant as a used pallet you could contaminate the food stream in that plant as well. 

 

Bottom line:  It's a bad practice that you shouldn't use as much as possible. The food stream is interconnected and some people use recycled pallets.


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#10 Tony-C

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Posted 30 October 2014 - 12:32 PM

Pallets outside are a neccessity for some, like us.  We use about 500 pallets a day in our facility so we cannot store indoors.  We inspect them all as they come into the plant. We also as you can imagine have a pretty high turnover with our pallets receiving truckloads every few days.  So infestations and roosting are kept to a minimum. Our auditors have commented on this issue regularly but we show our inspection procedures and they let it go.  If we ever received a non-conformance from a GFSI audit that would be just cruel.

 

Hi Jim,

 

You could get a non-conformance from a GFSI audit but only if you use the pallets in open product areas or if your inspections fail to identify dirty or damaged pallets.

 

SQF Code 11.7.5.5 states: 'Wooden pallets and other wooden utensils used in food handling/contact zones shall be dedicated for that purpose, clean, maintained in good order. Their condition is subject to regular inspection'.

BRC Food Safety requirements include: the use of wood is not permitted in open product areas/production areas. 'Where wood cannot be avoided there shall be a procedure in place to:
- identify damaged items
- minimise the potential for contamination
- include regular checks to ensure wood is in good condition and clean'


IFS Food states: 4.12.2 'In all areas, e.g. handling of raw materials, processing, packing and storage, where hazard analysis and assessment of associated risks have identified the potential for product contamination, the use of wood shall be excluded. Where the use of wood cannot be avoided, the risk shall be controlled and the wood shall be in good order and clean'.

 

For FSSC 22000, ISO/TS 22002-1 only mentions wooden pallets in terms of physical contamination.

 

Regards,

 

Tony
 


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#11 Mr. Incognito

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Posted 30 October 2014 - 12:53 PM

Do they inspect with a UV light for urine?  Just another contamination that might not be able to be seen by the naked eye that could exist on the pallet.  If your auditor takes a UV light to a pallet you stored outside when it's in production and finds that mice/rats or whatever left urine on the pallet I'm guessing it'll at least be a major nonconformity if not worse.


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