Food warehouse managers work hard. High stock turnovers, different storage temperatures required for various food stuffs and sanitation, creates a fast-pace work environment. Some products could be kept in wire cages on shelves with minimal temperature requirements, while others need below freezing temperatures.
Food and drink storage often requires a variety of different storage solutions and warehouse designs.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires registration for a food storage warehouse. Registering requires the facility to grant the FDA permission to inspect the warehouse.
The warehouse must maintain specific standards:
The warehouse must have a written plan outlining all the potential risks to the food stored and the warehouse and particular steps the facility takes whenever on of those risks becomes a reality.
If a product may be contaminated or mislabeled, the FDA notifies the warehouse and provides an opportunity to recall the product voluntarily.
If the warehouse does not voluntarily comply, the FDA has the authority to shut down all processing and shipping.
The FDA inspections of the warehouse begin within five years of opening the facility. After the first inspection, the FDA has the right and duty to inspect the warehouse once every three years.
The FDA also has the legislative authority to level fines and pursue civil or criminal penalties in court.
Special Features Required for a Food Storage Warehouse
There are specific critical requirements that a food storage warehouse must address that may not need quite as much emphasis for warehouses that store non-ingestible products.
A food storage warehouse should not store chemicals or pesticides or other potentially contaminating products in the vicinity of food products.
Sanitation and Hygiene
No one wants a dirty warehouse, but if the facility stores food maintaining strict hygiene and cleanliness standards becomes mandatory.
In addition to clean aisles and storage racks, employee cleanliness is essential.
There must be enough sinks to allow employees to wash their hands frequently.
Employees must receive hygiene and food handling training, such as wearing head coverings, gloves, and exhibiting good personal hygiene.
A food service warehouse needs a pro-active pest control process inside and around the exterior of the building.
Pest control experts must conduct regular inspections for any signs of rodent, insect, or other infestations.
A food warehouse needs a robust method of keeping track of all lots and date codes.
This is necessary not only for rotating inventory and ensuring the facility uses first-in/first-out or FIFO methodology but also for quick identification and removal of any recalled lots.
Like any warehouse, efficient utilization of space requires careful planning. The types of racks used help ensure you squeeze as much storage out of your existing space as possible.
Food warehouses also have other considerations such as sanitation, climate control, and air circulation.
Types of Racks
Adjustable racks are versatile and let you use determine the depth and height of the shelving depending on the food or drink product.
Racks allow easy accessibility in most configurations.
Stainless steel is an excellent choice for most racking solutions in a food and drink warehouse. Stainless steel resists contamination and is very easy to clean. Stainless steel has not chemicals in its makeup that could leech into the food products.
Using steel and galvanized metal helps prolong the useful life of the shelves and racks by providing excellent moisture and corrosion resistance.
This becomes particularly important for frozen food storage where temperatures must remain well below freezing constantly.
More on FIFO
Using first-in/first-out means loading, and retrieval only requires two aisles. Cost effective, gravity-fed rollers allow employees to quickly pick the products without resorting to more expensive automated systems.