Those who send reusable containers through the retail supply chain have not benefitted from standard safety guidelines. Instead, the providers of reusables and cleaning services have followed their own individual sanitation and food safety standards. These practices are not made public and likely vary by provider. To remedy that situation, the Reusable Packaging Association has established a new industry-wide committee to establish sanitation standards and guidelines for reusable containers used throughout the food supply chain. The RPC Food Safety Standards Committee will include membership and input from providers of reusable plastic containers (RPCs), retailers, growers and shippers.

The three major providers of RPCs (IFCO Systems, Tosca Ltd, and Polymer Logistics) are all members of the committee and will work to determine best practices, then follow them in order to increase food safety. 

“The reusables indus­try already has rig­or­ous clean­ing and test­ing pro­to­cols that meet or exceed accepted stan­dards, and these have proven to be highly effec­tive,” said Paul Pederson, director of food safety & compliance, IFCO Systems, and committee chair. “However, we want to establish common and public standards that will further increase confidence in the sanitation and food safety of RPCs.”

Additional members of the committee are ORYX Automation and Label and Barcode, Inc. More companies are expected to join as the work gets under way. “We will incorporate input from retailers, growers, and shippers so that the outcome reflects the needs of all the players in the supply chain,” added Pederson.