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FSMA Food Safety Modernization Act & Plastic Pallets

image Robin Kiefer image April 27, 2016

The FDA’s FSMA Ruling on the Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food is final.

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law on January 4, 2011.

On April 6, 2016 the FDA finalized its ruling on the Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food.

This ruling establishes formal requirements for the sanitary transportation of food to eliminate, or at least reduce the incidence of, contamination.

This goal of this final ruling is top carry out further implementation of both the Sanitary Food Transportation Act of 2005 and the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011.

How does the FSMA Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food ruling make our world a better place?

The rule aims to prevent transportation practices that increase or create food safety risks, such as:

  • improper food refrigeration
  • inadequate vehicle cleaning between loads
  • improper food protection

Who does the Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food ruling cover?

The ruling applies to these U.S. and foreign entities* involved with rail or motor food transportation within the U.S.:

  • Shippers
  • Receivers
  • Loaders

*Exporters shipping food through the U.S. to other destinations are exempt as long as the food doesn’t enter U.S. distribution.

FSMA and “One Way Solutions” have you covered!

What does this mean to the average business engaged in the food industry? In part, safety inspections will be both increased in number and in depth. As you may have already guessed, this will most assuredly bring additional costs and complexity to compliance of this act.

One of the main components of the act deals with sanitation in the handling and shipping of food products. Traditionally, the food industry has been dominated by the use of wood pallets in both storage and shipping due to their lower initial cost of purchase. Unfortunately, using wood pallets to handle food has inherent disadvantages that can be alleviated by using plastic pallets.

Here are some of the main points of the Food Safety Modernization Act:


“The owner, operator, or agent in charge of a facility shall, in accordance with this section, evaluate the hazards that could affect food manufactured, processed, packed, or held by such facility, identify and implement preventive controls to significantly minimize or prevent the occurrence of such hazards and provide assurances that such food is not adulterated under section 402 or misbranded under section 403(w).


“Food Transportation Study.–The Secretary, acting through the Commissioner of Food and Drugs, shall conduct a study of the transportation of food for consumption in the United States, including transportation by air, that includes an examination of the unique needs of rural and frontier areas with regard to the delivery of safe food.”


“With respect to an article of food, if importation of such food is subject to, but not compliant with, the requirement under subsection (q) that such food be accompanied by a certification or other assurance that the food meets applicable requirements of this Act, then such article shall be refused admission.”

While specific details are still hard to come by, in terms of the exact sanitary standards derived from the Food Safety Modernization Act, evidence can be found on how plastic pallets provide a clear advantage over wood pallets in complying with the act.

Wood Pallets have the uncanny ability to absorb pretty much every type of liquid or non-solid substance that is placed or spilled on them. While in other industries this may not seem like a big problem, absorbent wood pallets used within the food industry create a number of opportunities for food transported and stored on these pallets to become unsanitary and dangerous. This article on describes a case of food poisoning caused by wood pallets.

FSMA Absorbent Wood Pallets Unfit for Food Handling

Photo by Shimla Hills,

What is the compliance deadline date for the final FSMA Act Ruling?

Small Businesses

Small business (less than 500 employees and carriers with less than $27.5 million in annual revenue) get a break to ease the burden of compliance and have up to April 6, 2018 to meet compliance, two years after the April 6, 2016 Federal Register publication date.

Other Non-Exempt Businesses

All other non-exempt businesses must meet compliance standards as early as April 6 2017, one year from the the Federal Register April 6, 2016 publication date.

What should companies do about the new FSMA Act Ruling?

Obviously the new FSMA ruling takes a more solid stance on sanitary food transportation requirements to reduce the risk and incidence of food contamination due to improper material handling practices.

The FDA FSMA Food Safety Technical Assistance Network provides information to help businesses reach compliance.

For our pallet customers, we focus on the following advice:

Transportation equipment, such as pallets, must be adequately cleanable.

Luckily, there is a solution to this challenge. Plastic pallets are non-porous, and easily cleanable. Some of the plastic FDA pallets are even designed specifically with food safety in mind.

While this is a clear advantage over wood pallets, there additional reasons plastic pallets are a natural choice for handling and transporting food:

  • Plastic pallets come in a consistent format/shape/size that helps prevent any sharp edges or splinters that could otherwise cause food bags to rip or rupture and spill.
  • Metal nails are not a problem; custom molded plastic pallets don’t use them.
  • Finally, Plastic pallets are designed to be able to be cleaned/sanitized using extremely high water temperatures that help kill of bacteria, mold, viruses, and other pathogens.

Need A Second Opinion about Wood Pallets & Handling Food?

Here’s a positive Food Safety Magazine article that further details how plastic pallets are ideal for shipping and storing food:

FSMA Broken Wood Pallets Unfit for Food Handling

Photo by Mdornseif – Creative Commons

Businesses, as a result, are switching to plastic pallets in record numbers as they try to meet these new requirements for food handling.

We’ve Got You Covered

To meet with the emergent demand from the Food industry, One Way Solutions, are leading the way in the sale of plastic pallets and FDA plastic pallets.

With 7+ FDA Pallets and containers to choose from, One Way Solutions has you covered.

To shop the full For more information about One Way Solutions and their plastic pallets, click on the following link:

Looking For More Best Practices?

Check out our recent article on Listeria Bacteria & Plastic Pallets.

Thanks Palletizers! Please let me know what you think about plastic pallets, FSMA, or anything else on your mind.

About Robin Kiefer

Robin Spencer Kiefer connects customers with solutions and products. Robin is the Digital Marketing Manager of One Way Solutions.

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