Understanding Food-Grade Transportation

When shipping any type of freight, manufacturers want to ensure that their chosen carrier will get their products to their destination safely and securely. Ensuring that all products reach retailers’ shelves in prime condition is part of a transportation and distribution company’s responsibility. Whether shipping food products, consumer packaged goods (CPGs), or other items, customer satisfaction is on the line if the goods are spoiled or damaged in any way. The risks are even higher for food, beverage, and pharmaceuticals.

Storing and transporting consumable products requires extra diligence, ensuring that the goods are stored at required temperatures, handled properly, and not exposed to contamination. Compliance with industry regulations is essential. But what is food-grade transportation? What characteristics determine who is an expert on food-grade transportation?

What is Food-Grade Transportation?

Food-grade transportation is the shipment of food and consumable products from the manufacturers to the retail shelves. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Sanitary Food Transportation Act of 2005 states that specific sanitary practices must be followed when transporting human or animal food to prevent adulteration.

While food transportation refers to the general shipment of food, whether by water, air, rail, or road, the majority of food and consumables goods move across the country via trucks. Transporting consumables is complicated and requires strict compliance with food transportation standards. Businesses that don’t follow regulations face hefty fines, risk damage to their brand’s reputation, and a loss of trust from their customers.

Why is Fast and Safe Food Transportation so Important?

Delivering food quickly and safely enhances product quality for manufacturers and retailers and protects them from any possible compliance violations and customer dissatisfaction.

Maintaining efficient delivery lines also ensures retailer’s shelves are never empty. Less Than Truckload (LTL) shipping is ideal for food and beverage shipments as it allows retailers to place smaller orders more frequently. LTL shipping helps retailers maintain a reasonable balance of inventory in their distribution centers to ensure shelves are always stocked, reduces spoilage or expiration, and enables businesses to deal more effectively with demand fluctuations.

Food Transportation Standards

To avoid compliance fees, loss of customers, and damaged freight, several essential factors must be considered when warehousing and transporting food and beverages:

  1. Temperature requirements: Many consumables have specific storage requirements that vary according to the products. Failing to keep temperature-sensitive goods in the right conditions can result in spoilage, increasing costs, postponed fulfillment, loss of customer confidence, and possible contamination in the public domain. So, ensuring consumables are transported correctly at the right temperature is paramount to a smooth-running supply chain. Temperature-controlled carriers are equipped with the technology to maintain the ideal environment for the food products, regardless of the external conditions. Where warehousing is required for products, ensuring the facilities are temperature-controlled and have a robust pest control program is essential so that from the point of off-loading to reloading again, goods are never at risk.
  2. Training: Beyond monitoring temperature controls, employee training is required to ensure that the food handlers who off and on-load freight not only carefully inspect the products for damage or contamination but also verify product codes, expiration dates, best-by-dates, or other means of ensuring proper product rotation. Ensuring that quality procedures are followed, thoroughly inspecting the products, matching them to the shipping or receiving documents, and communicating effectively with the shipper and receiver helps maintain the integrity of the products.
  3. Records and Documentation: When transporting products with specific shelf lives, maintaining accurate records and documents, and following established procedures is a requirement. An experienced 3PL provider will transport food products safely and efficiently, stay in compliance with all quality requirements, and ensure the records and documents are completed and maintained.
  4. Updated and Maintained Vehicles and Equipment: A well-maintained vehicle is essential to ensure on-time deliveries, avoiding unexpected delays and in-route downtime. Keeping the fleet and the food-grade equipment up-to-date helps maintain compliance.

Colonial Cartage: Best Practices for Food-Grade Transportation

Correct handling, packaging, transporting, and storage are all crucial elements of a safe food supply chain. Following best practices helps ensure businesses avoid compliance and contamination risks.

Colonial Cartage has been transporting food and beverage shipments for over 69 years. We value accountability and integrity in our team and ensure that every team member receives training and supervision to be best equipped to handle our customers’ products.

For more information about how Colonial Cartage can help your company transport its freight efficiently and securely, contact us today.