Food manufacturers need to meet strict requirements to ensure that products move through processes safely without the risk of contamination or poor quality. Visibility and transparency are key dynamics that should always be employed — especially when these goods leave the production line to be stored in warehouses.
Numerous national and international regulations govern how food must be stored. The specific requirements that your warehouse needs to follow are based on the products that will be stored there, such as dry, canned, fresh, refrigerated, or frozen goods. Understanding these conditions is critical to ensure that there are no food safety gaps in your supply chain. In addition, it is important to meet the minimum requirements in order to pass food inspections and audits without facing fines, penalties, or temporary shutdowns.
Food safety guidelines can be complex and multi-faceted. Let us first review the laws and restrictions that manufacturers, distributors, and wholesalers must abide by in the food industry. Then we can take a deeper look at how WSI can assist your operations.
Regulatory Agencies and Laws
There are numerous agencies that deal with food safety for warehousing and distribution services, as well as for manufacturing operations and retail industries. Each state government has a department of health or agricultural branch that will work with the following federal agencies to enforce regulations and compliance in supply chains. Federal agencies that play vital roles in food safety include:
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): The CDC helps federal organizations track, investigate, and collect data about food borne illnesses and possible outbreaks. They monitor all control processes and prevention efforts to reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses.
- Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS): The FSIS monitors and evaluates commercial meat, processed eggs, and poultry products. They ensure these goods are wholesome and safe for consumption, as well as packaged and labeled correctly.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA): The FDA ensures that all food items that are not already regulated by the FSIS are sanitary and safe for the public. The agency also confirms that commodities are properly labeled.
There are numerous regulations that impact specific food processes and supply chains. To make matters more complex, these laws may be changed or modified periodically through legislative means. One of the most recent laws that came into effect is the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) rolled out by the FDA in 2011. FSMA requirements apply to warehouses, specifically food safety prevention initiatives. This law aims to avoid contamination by improving food safety practices in warehousing and distribution centers.
Food-Grade Warehousing Requirements
Your warehouse will need to be in compliance with established state and federal laws based on the different categories of food that you store. Dry, frozen, and refrigerated products may experience various hazards different from those that affect fresh or perishable goods. While there are numerous requirements to maintain safety — especially localized state regulations — here are several key conditions that you should be aware of for your warehouse operations.
- Pest Control: While pest control can impact all types of goods, it can be an especially difficult problem for dry foods such as grain and rice. Your warehouse must develop a plan to address indoor and outdoor pests in order to prevent contamination. For example, conducting periodic surveys of the building’s architecture may allow you to identify and shore up any holes and points of entry for insects, rodents, or bats.
- Sanitation and Hygiene: This requirement is extremely important for goods that are handled and consumed more often in the raw state, such as vegetables and fruits. Sanitation and hygiene regulations focus on the warehouse facility and its employees, emphasizing best practices to prevent the spread of food allergens through cross-contamination, environmental pathogens, and employee illnesses.
- Temperature Process Controls: There are also requirements that are specific to frozen and stored food. Warehouse managers need to maintain the correct temperature in their facilities to prevent spoilage, as well as address fungus and mold growth in wet settings. Environmental conditions should be monitored periodically, and food inspected for potential issues. Additionally, all workers should be fully trained on remediation procedures if a problem does occur.
Other food-grade warehouse requirements include performing hazard analysis, foreign material control, trace/recall protocols, FDA registration, transportation inspections, developing security policies, and more. The FSMA also states that all personnel must have the proper training and education for their assigned tasks.
WSI Food-Grade Warehouse Services
At WSI, we understand the complexities of food safety, especially for warehouses. We are a trusted 3PL company that provides quality warehousing, fulfillment, and distribution services for commercial supply chains. Our capabilities also extend into food-grade warehousing and distribution, and we are proud to provide logistical assistance for dry food supplies, raw materials, and finished products in large and small quantities.
Our food-grade facilities are complaint with all regulatory authorities including the FDA, USDA, local guidelines, and FSMA requirements for warehouses. We fully understand and implement all sanitary and safety procedures in our food warehousing inventory management services, all while focusing on timely delivery of products.
We have extensive experience with managing food supply chains, from meeting must-arrive-by dates to retailoring routing guides. Since traceability and visibility are vital aspects of food safety, WSI utilizes sophisticated lot tracking and tracing capabilities to keep tabs on products through every stage of the process. Additionally, these resources can be used for food recalls.
With our value-added services, you can streamline the supply chain and eliminate food safety gaps that could harm the public, not to mention your operations and reputation. We are proud to offer promotional packaging, labeling for special product configurations, design and construction of POP displays, and more.
When it comes to storing and distributing food products to key destinations, your company must ensure that it is compliant with all requirements for every federal and state agency. Here at WSI, we can help enhance your warehousing and distribution processes with our food-grade warehousing services and technologies. Contact our company to learn more about our logistical services that are tailored to the food industry.