It is important that food remains safe and unadulterated during transportation. Wooden pallets play a critical role in the delivery of food, but is it safe?

According to a 2015 article in NWPCA’s Pallet Central magazine, “The good news is there is no documented evidence of a wood pallet ever being the cause of a food borne illness or the source of a contaminated shipment of produce.”

With food packaging, there is no direct contact between pallet and food, and, “As long as the pallet is clean and dry the potential for a food safety issue coming from a pallet is not a concern.”

What about direct contact? According to The Balance’s article Are Wood Pallets Safe for Transporting Food, “Recent research supports that wood is safe for direct food contact”.

However, that does not mean wood pallets can’t become contaminated. To ensure pallets used for food transportation are safe, there are regulations such as the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act, and more recently, the FDA’s Final Rule on Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food.

FDA’s Sanitary Transportation Final Rule

According to Pallet Central’s article FDA’s Sanitary Transportation for Pallets, under the Final Rule, “Pallet suppliers have an obligation to ensure that pallets are designed and maintained so that they are suitable and adequately cleanable for their intended use, in order to prevent food from becoming adulterated.”

How companies meet that requirement is up to them, and may “develop their own procedures for the care and maintenance of pallets”.

You can be confident that your pallet supplier will always deliver safe pallets. Once you receive pallets from your pallet supplier, it is important to maintain necessary conditions to ensure your pallets remain safe:

  • Store properly to prevent pests or contamination
  • Handle and clean properly
  • Check for protruding nails, splinters, etc. that could potentially puncture food packaging

As written in Pallet Central’s article, “FDA, in issuing the Final Rule, recognized the longstanding value that wooden pallets provide in transporting food from place to place. We are pleased that FDA, appropriately, continues to permit the use of wooden pallets as a safe and efficient food transportation option.”