Based on the types of food stored, a warehouse must adhere to established federal and state laws. Various hazards are possible with frozen, refrigerated, and dry food products that may be different from the hazards affecting perishable or fresh foods. At Minnesota Freezer Warehouse Company (MFWC), we are your source for exceptional quality food-grade warehousing services to ensure your products remain viable for their intended shelf life.
Some of the key practices that must be maintained in a food grade warehouse are covered below:
Hygiene and Sanitation
This is critically important for goods that are handled and consumed when raw, such as fruits and vegetables. The regulations governing hygiene and sanitation cover the activities of employees and the warehouse facility itself. They are designed to prevent cross-contamination that can spread food allergens, environmental pathogens, and illnesses among employees.
Every person who works at a warehouse dedicated for food storage must wash his or her hands thoroughly with company supplied soap. The hand washing must be done in sink that is equipped with a hygienic dry system.
Comprehensive records must be kept and maintained on various warehouse activities and requirements, including new employee training, quality awareness, incident and crisis management, food safety, and personal hygiene.
Pest control can affect various types of goods, but is an especially serious problem when dry foods such as rice and grain are contaminated. A warehouse must create a plan to prevent contamination from indoor and outdoor pests to prevent contamination. As an example, performing routine surveys of the building and its architecture may reveal points of entry for rodents, birds, bats, insects, and other animals. These opening must be closed or sealed. Control substances should be placed along the perimeter of the warehouse to prevent animals from entering the premises.
Temperature Process Controls
Stored and frozen food are also subject to requirements relative to temperature in order to prevent spoilage and the growth of mold and fungus in wet environments. Periodic monitoring of the environmental conditions of the facility should be performed, with food inspected for potential contamination or spoilage issues. All employees must be provided training on proper remediation actions if a problem is discovered.
General temperature guidelines for food storage in a warehouse are as follows:
- Frozen food should be stored at a minimum temperature of 0° F.
- Chilled or refrigeration products require storage in a temperature range of 34° to 39° F.
- Products in dry storage must be kept in a temperature range of 50° and 70°F.
Also, the humidity levels in dry storage should not be greater than 15% and no food should be stored in direct sunlight.
An in-house system that traces lot codes and product dates must be implemented to ensure food inventory is managed according to the “first in, first out” (FIFO) method.
Other requirements incumbent upon food-grade warehouses include FDA registration, trace/recall protocols, hazard analysis, security policy development, foreign material control, transportation inspections, and more. Also, according to the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), all warehouse employees must have proper education and training for their assigned job duties.