iGPS seeks FDA inquiry into wood pallets, risks to food safety
By RP news wires | reliableplant.com
iGPS Company on August 11 called on the U.S. Food & Drug Administration to launch a comprehensive investigation of wood pallets and the risks they may pose to the nation’s food supply.
“Wood pallets may present a serious risk to America’s food supply. The over one billion wood pallets in circulation in the U.S. are a breeding ground for harmful bacteria and carry other undesirable substances that can cross-contaminate food,” said Bob Moore, chairman and CEO, iGPS. “Wood is inherently porous and can easily absorb bacteria and fluids, creating a risk for food products where Listeria, E. coli and salmonella are a concern. What’s worse is that wood pallets made with “engineered wood” components contain urea formaldehyde – a known carcinogen – which may come into contact with food under a variety of scenarios when it is stored and shipped on wooden pallets. Formaldehyde is also released into the air when it off-gases from pallets in storage and transportation compartments, posing a risk to the health of workers and consumers.”
Wood pallets pose other dangerous risks to food safety, as outlined by Moore in a letter to the FDA’s Dr. Stephen F. Sundlof, director, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, and Michael R. Taylor, senior advisor to the commissioner. Wood pallets are susceptible to insect infestation and require heat treatment or fumigation before they can be moved cross-border. Fumigation is often performed with methyl bromide, a highly toxic, ozone-depleting chemical. Rusty nails that can penetrate food packaging are also a risk.
“The use of wood pallets to carry our food supply is increasingly difficult to justify, especially when it is so vulnerable to contamination,” said Moore. “Wood pallets are so unhygienic that the FDA has explicitly recommended that they not be used in connection with food preparation – but more analysis is needed. We call upon the FDA to launch a full investigation into the use of wood pallets in connection with the storage and shipment of our country’s food. The health and safety of the American public dictates nothing less.”
iGPS operates the world’s first pallet rental service providing shippers and receivers with all-plastic pallets with embedded RFID tags. iGPS’ state-of-the-art pallets are 30 percent lighter than wood, which saves on transport costs and helps reduce green house gases. Its pallets are also more hygienic, easier to handle and, because they eliminate protruding nails and splinters, reduce workplace injuries and damaged equipment.