IFCO Releases Report on RPC and Corrugated Container Microbial Activity Testing

IFCO Systems releases statement on the microbial testing of corrugated and plastic containers, stresses the importance of proper handling in any system as a focus of food safety, not competing products

RPCs and Pallet1RPCs have been safely used to move fresh food through supply chains around the world for over 20 years, and last year the number of cases of fresh produce shipped in IFCO RPCs annually exceeded 1 billion. Growers and retailers worldwide know that RPCs are safe. In fact, results of third-party tests conducted between March and August of 2014 show significantly lower microbial activity on RPCs than cardboard boxes immediately prior to packing. These tests were conducted on randomly-selected samples at various packing operations using industry-accepted testing methodology, and provide further evidence of the effectiveness of the IFCO wash process in producing clean, food safe containers.

Despite the high microbial counts often found on cardboard boxes prior to packing, there has never been a food safety incident traced back to any kind of transport packaging. Microbial activity on packaging prior to packing can be attributed to a number of factors, many of which are tied to practices within grower operations. It is for this reason that IFCO, along with other RPC poolers, growers, retailers, both the US and Canadian Produce Marketing Associations, and the United Fresh Produce Association formed a Food Safety Committee under the umbrella of the Reusable Packaging Association two years ago. Similar work is also underway at the Canadian Produce Marketing Association with the leadership and support of the Canadian Horticultural Council. The purpose of each working group is to provide all members of the fresh produce supply chain with information to support our mutual commitment to food safety, as improper storage and handling of RPCs, cardboard boxes, or other packaging can lead to potential food safety risks.

IFCO does not believe in using an issue as serious as food safety to gain a competitive edge, rather we commission microbial tests only to inform our ongoing efforts to improve food safety across the fresh produce supply chain – not just in our own operations but in those of our customers and partners. IFCO and our customers – the finest grower-shippers and retailers in North America and across the world – know that the responsibility for a safe, healthy, and responsible food supply rests with all of us. We at IFCO are proud to accept that responsibility as we work alongside our customers to provide the world with a safe, healthy, sustainable supply of fresh produce.

To read the full report, click on the IFCO – Box vs RPC Test Summary – IFCO North America 2014