The transportation of perishable goods requires not just the use of appropriately refrigerated vehicles, but also of highly specialised wrapping and packing procedures. Freight forwarders who take on the facilitation of these kinds of loads for haulage companies must be entirely familiar with the legalities and protocols of the process, or risk serious legal and health ramifications.
Haulage companies must have temperature-controlled vehicles in order to take on the transport of perishable foods. Potential problems can include incorrect separation of food items (especially meat), inadequate cleaning of containers and vehicles, use of inappropriate wrapping or cartons and unsuitable storage conditions. If stringent standards are not adhered to, goods may be contaminated with dirt, bacteria, pests and chemical tainting, which creates the potential for dire consequences.
Legalities and Practicalities
It is a legal requirement that appropriate wrapping and packing must be undertaken in order to preserve hygienic conditions for food goods and maintain their condition whilst in depot or transit.
Haulage companies must comply with the law by ensuring that the wrapping or packaging materials themselves are not a source of contamination, and that any procedures are carried out in such a way to avoid contamination of the product. Pest control measures must be put in place and, wherever food is being wrapped, the surroundings must be spacious enough to ensure that raw and processed materials are separated.
With regard to the sites on which these processes are carried out, there are also guidelines in place that concern the storage of materials. All materials must be kept free of dirt, dust and contamination, which can be ensured by keeping them off the floor. Once again, there also must be adequate room for handling meat products separately from other products.
Packing and Wrapping Materials
What's more, there are legal and good practice requirements for what kind of wrapping and packing materials are used. They must provide a barrier against contamination, along with not affecting the smell or taste of the product. Materials that comply with regulations include:
•Polyboxes – cardboard cartons that include a plastic lining
•Vacuum packaging – sturdy, rigid containers from which all air can be removed
•Modified atmosphere packaging – a combination of specialised gases are pumped into the box when it is sealed.
Compliance for Transportation of Food
Legislation states that: "At all stages of production, processing and distribution, food is to be protected against contamination", which also covers the practices and vehicles that are used to transport it. In order to stay compliant, vehicles must be maintained scrupulously, meaning that they are disinfected, adequately cleaned, repaired and protected from cross contamination.The internal layout of the vehicle must allow for separation of food stuffs to avoid airborne bacterial contamination, and feature smooth, watertight surfaces that allow for easy cleaning and disinfection.
Compliancy also covers practices regarding the loading and unloading of vehicles and access to the areas in which it is carried out, including issues such as contamination through dirt, birds, dust, leaves and pests.
Stay Compliant and Avoid Contamination
For haulage companies and freight forwarders responsible for organising the transportation of food products, adhering to the guidelines throughout the entirety of the process will help ensure safe, healthy and happy consumers and no legal ramifications.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching haulage companies with jobs in road transport and haulage work. Over 4,500 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.