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The Lowdown on Good Storage Practices

BY Aileen Uys

When implementing a food safety management system such as HACCP or FSSC 22 000 it is difficult to really know what good storage practices entails. Certification standards are often vague and do not explain precisely what is required in terms of Good Storage Practices. Herewith some pointers on what needs to be considered. This applies to any size warehouse, whether used for raw materials, finished goods or packaging materials.

  • One should protect the ingredients, packaging and final product. This means it must be stored in an enclosed store. 
  • Inside one should have space under, between pallets and away from the wall to efficiently clean and prevent pest harbourage. The rule of thumb is to have a broom’s width (+- 50cm) space to facilitate effective cleaning. 
  • When stacking, one should protect the bottom layers.
  • A separate, designated and labelled area is needed for all non-conforming product.
  • Practices the principles of FIFO, First in First Out or FEFO First Expired First Out, depending on the product.
  • No Gasoline or Diesel forklifts are allowed in food ingredient or product storage areas.
  • Cleaning chemicals, pesticides, lubricants and general maintenance chemicals should be stored separately and should be locked.
  • Adequate lighting is needed in order to clean and inspect properly and to work safely. Follow the published occupational health and safety guidelines on Lux levels. The store should also be properly ventilated.
  • Often sweets and chips wrappers or cold drink bottles are hidden in storage areas. This is a symptom of disregarding of the hygiene policies. This needs to be strongly discouraged and prevented through good training. Next time have a look in the warehouse dustbins to see whether personnel are eating inside the warehouse. 
  • A pallet inspection programme is needed to ensure that wooden pallets are in good order and clean. Plastic pallets are not magical devices that do not get dirty and also require planned cleaning and inspection.
  • All wooden pallets need a cardboard or plastic slip sheet between the materials and the pallet, or when double stacking.
  • With regards to allergens, the rules are simple. Like should be stored above like. In case of multiple allergens the ingredients with the most allergens should be stored at the bottom. Look at implementing a spillage procedure to ensure spillages do not become allergen cross-contamination risks.
  • An incoming ingredients examination record should beused to inspect all ingredients received for quality and pests.
  • Do not accumulate broken and damaged bags and do not tape it closed. Implement a rebagging procedure that details how this is dealt with. Also cover rebagging returns from production. 
  • Temperature control does not only mean refrigerated storage but might also mean checking the temperature in our ambient rooms to ensure quality is not affected in the cold winter months or warm summer months. All temperatures need to be logged either manually or realtime.
  • One should have rodent monitoring devices in the warehouse as part of the pest management program. Just keep in mind that these devices are only monitoring and not control devices. The control comes from pest proofing the warehouse properly, cleaning properly and engineering out harbourages. 
  • Storage areas should be properly bird proofed. This involves keeping doors closed, sealing all gaps on the roof line and regularly inspecting for and removing nests. 
  • Don’t forget cleaning, our master cleaning schedule applies for our warehousing also.
  • Everything in a store must be accurately and legibly labelled to facilitate traceability.

 

 May 19, 2014
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Food Safety
Aileen Uys

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