With the help of sophisticated wash lines and carefully designed process controls, IFCO service centers wash over 1 billion RPCs annually, readying them for customers to fill with perishable food products for delivery to retailers and foodservice providers. IFCO’s HACCP (Hazard and Critical Control Points) and GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative) certified processes are constantly monitored for compliance. Combined with IFCO’s own strict standards, which exceed harmonized international requirements, and in addition to the RPC wash cycle IFCO has in place, there are 2 important steps RPC users can do to improve sanitation efficiency and optimal results.
Customers Can Greatly Aid the Wash Cycle by Using Approved Labels
According to Andre Luecht, VP - Operations at IFCO Systems, the greatest quality issue the company receives, ranging around 52 percent of problems reported, is with respect to stickers and sticker compliance. Because RPCs are a reusable asset, the same sticker you would use with a disposable carton cannot be used. While permanent adhesives may work well on a label for a corrugated cardboard container which is recycled in the pulping process, such is not the case for RPCs. The wrong label can bond permanently to the plastic, which causes the labeled piece to need replacement – defeating the purpose of the reusable container.
Luecht stresses that RPC users should be utilizing labels with a pressure sensitive acrylic emulsion adhesive. It is a water-based glue formulated to melt and release at 135 degrees Fahrenheit below the IFCO wash process set at 140 degrees. These are available at an incremental cost – less than half a penny per label. Approved label providers can be found at IFCO.com on the Supply Chain Resources page.
Retailers Can Aid RPC Sanitation By Storing Empty RPCs Indoors
The biggest mistake retailers make with regard to RPC sanitation is storing the container outside, which can make the container a potential pest harborage point. To guard against this risk, Luecht says retailers should collapse and stack unused RPCs and store them inside.
To guard against potential risks associated with outside storage, some IFCO wash plants have segregated inbound receiving areas to protect against any unwanted passengers arriving with loads of empty RPCs. Proper storage goes a long way to prevent cross contamination and provide an overall biosecurity approach.
The IFCO Wash Cycle process is a sophisticated, high volume approach to supplying sanitized RPCs to the perishable supply chain - one that continues to improve through innovations. To learn more about the wash cycle and IFCO’s food safety program, click here.