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Integrating reusable transport packaging into operations of any size will necessitate a new set of processes. Small distributors usually take a different approach than larger companies that can leverage economies of scale and take advantage of commercial equipment.
Check out the resources below for best practices tailored to small-scale operations.
Cleaning Reusable Plastic Containers (PDF, 1 MB). Like any food-contact surface, Reusable Plastic Containers (RPCs) must be cleaned and sanitized as frequently as necessary to ensure sanitary conditions. If using commercial sanitation equipment is not an option for your operation, follow the guidance provided in this 2-page guide. Also available in Spanish (PDF, 870K) and Chinese (PDF, 1.4MB).
Listed below are resources to provide additional guidance on best practices for cleaning and sanitation.
General Food Safety Guidance
- University of California Small Farm Program - Food safety resources for small farms
- Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) - Current law establishing food safety standards
- Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF) - Offers programs and resources to help small farms comply with the FSMA
- FDA Food Code - Includes food safety requirements for businesses
- USDA Good Agricultural Practices & Good Handling Practices - Safe food handling practices for every step of the production process
- Cleaning and Sanitization of Food-contact Surfaces in Retail/Foodservice Establishments - Article published in Food Safety Magazine (2010)
- Effective Cleaning and Sanitizing Procedures - JIFSAN Good Aquacultural Practices Program
- Allowed Detergents and Sanitizers for Food Contact Surfaces and Equipment in Organic Operations - USDA document
- On-farm Food Safety: Cleaning and Sanitizing Guide - Iowa State University
Container Loss Prevention (PDF, 2 MB). Reusable transport packaging (Reusables) like reusable plastic containers (RPCs), durable pallets, and reusable pallet wraps are valuable assets that can help reduce operational costs, but only if systems are in place to keep them in the supply chain. This 2-page guide outlines best practices suitable for small-scale distributors that can help keep a maximum number of containers accounted for.