Pallet Policy and Best Practices: Dealing with Pallet Mold

Over the last year we have covered on several occasions the “musty odor” problem that has prompted recalls in the pharmaceutical industry. Some of those recalls by both Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer have been blamed on the use of a chemical called 2,4,6-tribromophenol, or TBP, which inhibits the growth of mold on pallets. The chemical is banned in many parts of the world, but unfortunately we operate increasingly in a global supply chain. TBP can break down into 2,4,6-tribromoanisole (TBA) whcih gives off a musty moldy smell.

Those recalls, and the connection to the potential use of TBP on pallets, led to considerable bad press for wooden pallets, with companies increasingly mandating steps, some of them misinformed, to ensure the non-contamination of pallets. For example, there have been cases of companies insisting on heat treated pallets in order to kill bacteria and mold, but the reality is that heat treatment can actually increase risk of mold, unless proper handling procedures are followed. Heat treatment is designed to eliminate insects. While it may kill mold present, heat treatment draws water to the surface of wood, which unless allowed to dry, provides an environment amenable to mold growth. Likewise, approved chemical treatments can be very effective in inhibiting mold growth.

This month, Bob Trebilcock provides some sanity into a topic that has generated some disappointing hype from within the pharma press, hype that has not only damaged pallet producers, but has served as a disservice to pallet users from the pharmaceutical industry who rely on credible information from the press in their decision processes.

Read Bob’s moldy pallet coverage here.

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