Some call them a “silent hero”, others call them “the hero we never knew we needed”
Food products require special care and attention throughout the entire supply chain process given the potential health risks, regulatory penalties/fines, and perishability of items. It’s important for companies to choose the right partner when deciding this crucial aspect of their business. Food grade 3PL services must be able to receive, handle, store, and deliver these products in a safe and timely manner, and experience counts in this category.
What is a Food Grade 3PL?
A food grade 3PL is a partner that specializes in food warehousing and distribution, while maintaining a high level of standards to protect the inventory stored within. Food grade 3PL Warehouses are separated by type. Some of the most common are dry storage, cold or frozen storage, and chilled or refrigerated storage.
Why You Need a Food Grade 3PL?
Food Grade Warehouses must maintain the highest levels of sanitation and health protocols to ensure the safety of the food within. As such, these standards go beyond just the handling of the food products itself. These facilities place emphasis on areas that may go overlooked by non-food grade 3PL providers. Here are a few areas you can expect to see elevated in this facility:
01Physical Condition of the Facility
The facility is kept clean, well maintained, and free of conditions that have a potential to cause health problems. Any problems would be addressed immediately to avoid compromising the facility. Including but not limited to:
- Leaks in the roof, walls, or any other area in the foundation.
- Trash, Standing water, or rodent tracks around the building.
- Holes in the window or window frame
- Cleaning agents, pesticides, and other chemicals would be kept in an area separate from the food products.
- Exterior damage such as holes, cracks, open pipes, etc.
“Additionally, there are measures in place to not to store any products with the potential to cross-contaminate other product(s) due to odor.”
The facility takes a proactive approach to pest control within and outside of the facility. Substances are placed to prevent pests like rodents, birds, ants, and other animals.
03Hygiene and Sanitation
Proper storage and handling of food products requires a high level of scrutiny – both on the part of the employees that work there and the facility itself. All employees must wash their hands with company supplied soap, and practice good hygiene. New employee training will be documented and updated.
The facility is kept clean and tidy at all times. You should also find a master sanitation schedule which outlines all cleanings to be done and the cleaning/sanitation process used.
Food-grade 3PLs have a system in place for tracing lot and date codes to ensure the “First In, First Out” method of inventory rotation. This is essential in managing expiration dates.
Food Grade Warehouses are registered with the FDA and are in compliance with food safety inspections.
Still Not Convinced?
Food grade 3PLs understand the complexities of storing food product to ensure it is safe for the consumer. But, partnering with a food grade 3PL goes beyond storage.
Receiving and storing food products is the first half of the equation. The second half is the distribution. Food grade partners understand the importance to have quality and efficient shipping from the facility to the end user. This is why they are equipped with both refrigerated and dry storage van fleets to ensure food products arrive safe, fresh, and readily available for consumption to the clients.
Additionally, Food Grade 3PLs can help their partners better manage inventory and save their business money by assisting with distribution plans. These providers are experts in handling food products. They understand that different products will have differing life cycles based on the type of product, how they are stored, handled, and how they are distributed. Understanding this, Food grade 3PL partners can assist with go to market strategies to minimize waste and spoilage.
The Road Ahead
Finding the right partner for your company’s food supply chain management is an important task. Choosing a partner that understands the entire cycle of the distribution system helps ensure the company will be FDA compliant, lessens risks of lawsuits due to mishandling of food products, and maintains a high standard for your products which most importantly, will keep your customers happy!