How Loading Dock Integrity Affects Public Health

Most of the public is sanguine about the foods they eat every day, rarely stopping to think where it comes from, how far it traveled to get to them, and under what conditions it was shipped. Whether it’s true that the average number of miles your food travels to get to your plate is 1,500 or something less, it is true that for much of the year, most produce is grown either in the southern regions of the United States or abroad. That fresh spinach in your salad is very possibly a world traveler.

News articles about food recalls focus on contamination – E. Coli, Salmonella, Listeria, and others – at the point of origin so the public believes that that the food was unsafe already when it was picked, bagged, or processed. It’s quite possible, however, given the complexity of the supply chain, that the contaminated spinach, eggs, or walnuts were fine when they were loaded onto the first truck and spoiled somewhere in transit.

This is why both proper procedure and proper equipment are crucial for every loading dock that ships or receives food and why every company in the food supply chain has a responsibility to maintain both cold chain integrity and protect food from exposure to pests.

USA - Food InsecurityRefrigerated food is at risk at the loading dock due to both employee and equipment failure. Food is exposed to both temperature and the elements when the security seal on the trailer doors fails. If there are gaps in the dock station perimeter, environmental requirements for safety will not be maintained and the changes in temperature and humidity will have an unpredictable effect on the food in transit. Similarly, if the food is left sitting out either on a truck or inside the warehouse, this is safety issue.

Pests such as insects and bugs are also a problem with an insecure loading dock station. Tiny breaches in external door seals can create disastrous problems for food safety. This is why many regulatory organizations require all openings to be close fitting or pest proofed to less than .25 inches or 6 millimeters. Small cracks or white space may not seem like much of a problem because they are hardly visible – but neither are many insects…or Salmonella.

If you would like to discuss options for improving loading dock safety and performance, Beuschel Sales has both the knowledge and the equipment to make that a reality for your company. Due to economies of scale for food production, small problems can make for enormous expenses for producers, consumers, and transporters. Make sure your facilities are up for the challenges food shipping entails.

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