Properly storing food on the right kind of shelving must be done according to federal regulations. The type, metal shelving, plastic, or wood, lowers or heightens the risk for contamination.
Warehouses must meet not only governmental but specific generally accepted private food storage requirements.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Code of Federal Regulations, 21 CFR 110, provide limited guidance. What guidance the laws include is subject to compliance inspections.
FDA and the CFR
The general guidance from the FDA Food Code essentially states that food products must be protected from contamination and the facility where the food is stored pest-free.
The FDA states that the minimum shelf height off the floor is six inches. The CFR discusses sanitation and taking appropriate anti-contamination measures.
Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) Certification
Many major food chains around the world require a GFSI certification from suppliers.
It takes, on average, a year to meet the rigid sanitation and food handling minimums before a facility can institute all the processing requirements to enable the warehouse to pass a GFSI inspection and obtain the certificate.
Types of Food Grade Warehouses
Warehouses that store food are considered food grade facilities. There are three general types: Frozen or cold storage, dry storage, and chilled/refrigerated storage.
Food Grade Warehouses – General Requirements
Food grade warehouses, according to industry standards, must meet specific criteria or rules, including:
- No leaks in the walls, roof, or foundation edges.
- Storage of all cleaning agents, pesticides, and other chemicals is located away from the food shelves.
- Ensuring the outside of the building has no standing water, weeds, trash, or indications of rodents or other small animals inhabiting the area.
- The exterior of the building must have no damage, such as cracks or holes.
Food warehouse owners must not only keep the shelves and the warehouse clean but should schedule regular sanitizing sessions.
There should be a schedule for cleaning the shelves holding food product, in addition to the daily cleaning of the entire facility.
Formally document all cleanings so an inspector can review the schedule at any time.
Traceability and First-In/First-Out
You must store food on the metal or plastic shelves to make it easy to trace lots. Most food products require first-in/first-out accountability.
Your shelving stocking system should allow easy viewing and rotation of stock by warehouse employees.
Pest control must be formalized for food warehouses. Regularly schedule whatever system you use, traps, spraying, or other preventative pest control measures, and document what you use and when you use it.
Training and Personal Hygiene
Food warehouse owners must train all employees in proper personal hygiene while at work. Install sanitary drying systems and ensure the right types of soap are supplied for employees to wash their hands.
Ensure you follow all federal and local statutes concerning appropriate signage regarding how and when to wash your hands when handling food products.
Food grade warehouses should register with the FDA and comply with all oversight and inspection rules.
Safe Quality Food Certification
A Safe Quality Food Certification (SQF) from the SQF Institute verifies and validates food safety and quality throughout the supply chain.
For a warehouse, having an SQF certificate lets customers know that the food supplied from the warehouse to the end users has been stored and handled correctly, in an industry-accepted manner.
SQF certifications are recognized world-wide.
AIB International Support
AIB International has been around for over 100 years. Internationally recognized, the organization dedicates itself to helping any entity in the food distribution and storage supply chain practice or improve food safety and quality.
AIB has the expertise to help warehouses meet and maintain all internationally required food handling and quality assurance standards.
At Shelving + Rack Systems, Inc., we stock a wide range of storage systems for food applications such as galvanized stainless-steel or rust resistant shelving with an antimicrobial coating to ensure your facility meets all food warehousing requirements.
For more information or to speak with a member of our team about your food storage needs, call us today at 1-800-589-7225.