Food Safety And The Bulk Transportation System

Estee de Villiers
 October 20, 2015
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Food Safety

The focus of food safety has always been on the supply chain from the crop to the table, but recently a huge gap in the supply chain has been identified - the bulk transportation of food stuffs. It has been identified that transporting food stuff in bulk containers have been overlooked and has never received the attention that it needs and that contamination during this stage of the supply chain is very likely to occur if measurements to prevent them is not considered.

The amount of transporting our food products from one supplier to the next supplier using bulk transportation has increased in the last couple of years. More and more companies rely on this method rather than small scale ingredient bags or containers. It has proven to be more efficient for production purposes as well as more cost effective, but with that being said, it also means that these transportation companies get a lot of pressure from their food manufacturing counter parts to deliver safe food and so have to also start and comply with certain food regulations and customer specifications. These bulk transportation companies are almost being treated now in the same manner as any food ingredient supplier and must also comply with food safety standards as specified by their customer.

The main areas of concern regarding food safety in this part of the supply chain is the actual cleaning of the tankers as well as foreign material contamination.

Cleaning of the tankers before and after use is of vital importance to ensure that contamination from one food stuff does not contaminate the food product being transported next in the same carrier or tanker. This is especially applicable to the transportation of allergen and non-allergenic products for instance milk products to oil products. Specialized inspections and procedures takes place on each tanker as well as all inlet and outlet valves, couplings, piping and any other part of the tanker that comes into direct contact with food stuff. This all takes place in order to verify that tankers are clean, free from chemicals and free from protein after each and every wash. Still, a lot of companies find this quite difficult to maintain and do get out of spec results quite often after verification, resulting in rewashing, retesting and therefor time waste. So, some companies have started to implement a complete and separate fleet that will just be used for the transportation of each specific food product. This lowers the risk and increases productivity time.

Another area of concern in the bulk transportation chain is foreign material control. This includes nuts and bolts, seals, broom bristles, cloths, bees and other various insects – to name only but a few that has been discovered at the off-loading area. This creates huge upset for the end user as their product will now be rejected, new product will have to be delivered which may cause a loss in production time and the overall transportations quality system is now in question.

To control these hazards, similar strategies than in the manufacturing industry has been implemented to try and manage contamination - from sifters to strainers, to proper seal control and issuing, but the number one method of prevention is to rather try and control the surrounding environment on a daily basis with Good Manufacturing Practices. This includes having proper preventative maintenance in place to ensure tankers are in a good state at all times and to ensure maintenance debris are all accounted for. Daily foreign material hunts will lower the risk of foreign material coming into contact with the inside of the tanker. Appropriate PPE for the wash bay attendants and inspectors will ensure no cross contamination takes place.

The above is just a few of the methods that we have used to help the bulk transportation companies in complying to their customers wants and needs regarding food safety and quality. Ask yourself the question: Do you know who transports your product? Do they adhere to your food safety standards?

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Estee de Villiers

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