Food products require special care and handling across the entire supply chain. Add the complexities of regulatory compliance to the equation and the situation becomes even more challenging.
Finding the right warehouse for food storage and distribution is an important task that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Whether you need dry storage, frozen food storage, refrigerated storage, or a combination of all three, there are some key factors to consider when choosing a logistics partner.
Here are six things to take into consideration:
1. Dry, Frozen, or Refrigerated?
If your products don’t need to be refrigerated, look for a dry storage warehouse that can provide a dry, clean environment for those products (e.g., grain and rice). If the products are perishable, seek a warehouse with frozen and/or refrigerated capabilities.
Frozen facilities, for example, must maintain a constant temperature for the products stored there. Refrigerated warehouses are built to accommodate food (and other products) that must be kept under a certain temperature.
2. The Physical Condition of the Facility
Food storage facilities should be clean, well maintained, and free of any conditions that could cause health problems (i.e., bacteria, rodents, insects, fungus, etc.). Operating under strict regulations, food grade warehouses must be well maintained in order to ensure that stored products don’t get contaminated.
The building’s exterior should also be clean and well maintained.
3. Sanitation and Hygiene
Proper care and handling of food products requires a high level of sanitation and hygiene—both on the part of the facility itself and on the employees who work there. Your food grade warehouse should have a master sanitation schedule and a detailed outline of the cleaning/sanitation processes used there.
Look around the facility to ensure that there are enough sinks for hand-washing, that personnel have good personal hygiene, and that they receive regular training on food-handling processes.
4. Proactive Pest Control
Make sure the facility takes a proactive approach to pest control both inside and outside (e.g., traps, spraying, etc.). Ask to see the facility’s pest control plan and survey the warehouse yourself to look for signs of infiltration (holes in the building, droppings, insects, etc.).
5. FDA Registration
The food grade warehouse you choose should be registered with the FDA and in compliance with local food safety inspections. This oversight is particularly important when dealing with food that will be used for human and/or animal consumption, so don’t overlook this step.
Other certifications/ratings to look for include the Safe Quality Food (SQF) Certification, which addresses the issues of food quality and food safety across the supply chain, and AIB inspection ratings, a voluntary inspection that a 3PL may solicit to rate the safety and cleanliness of facilities.
6.Company Track Record
Ask about the firm’s established systems for ensuring that the food products it handles will be safe for use and consumption. Look at the company’s track record, do a quick Google search for any negative reviews/reports, and inquire about its experience in your particular business.
If you’re not satisfied with the answers that you get, it’s probably time to explore other options.
Keep these six important considerations in mind as you review your options for a North Carolina food-grade warehouse, where logistics providers like Kanban specialize in providing a high level of expertise and safety for food and beverage manufacturers and distributors.