Receiving, Transportation and Storage

Introduction

Good receiving, transportation and storage practices help ensure that food reaches its destination in a safe condition without compromising quality. By providing an environment that reduces the risk of contamination and protects food from physical damage and temperature abuse, these practices control the safety and quality of your product until it is delivered to the customer.

That's why it's important to have a documented preventive control program for receiving, transportation and storage. Your program should cover:

  1. Receiving and Storage
  2. Finished Product Storage and Shipping
  3. Transport Vehicles
  4. Product Returns

Procedures

Receiving and Storage

General guidelines

To control any hazards that could enter the plant, it's important to control incoming materials:

  • Keep records of all shipments received at the plant.
  • Create and maintain a list of approved suppliers for ingredients, packaging materials and non-food chemicals that are delivered to your plant.
  • Before approving ingredient and packaging suppliers, consider auditing reports of their food safety program.
  • Give your receiving staff a list of approved suppliers for non-food chemicals, ingredients and packaging.
  • Make sure the area where you receive incoming materials is separated from your processing area to prevent contamination of food products.

Define specifications for incoming materials to make sure that they are food grade and free of any biological, chemical, or physical hazards. For example, cocoa powder can sometimes contain Salmonella, a known biological hazard. When receiving these materials, make sure they meet your specifications. This may involve one or more of the following:

  • Analyse the material through a regular monitoring program (for example, grading raw milk and testing it for antibiotics).
  • Ask your supplier for a "Certificate of Analysis" prior to or with each shipment and lot. A Certificate of Analysis demonstrates that your ingredients meet the appropriate specifications.
  • Periodically sample and test incoming ingredients to verify they are meeting specifications.
  • Visually inspect the material.

When storing materials, be sure to:

  • identify the hazards associated with storing the materials you receive (such as inadequate temperature control, overhead pipes dripping condensation on your product, etc.)
  • establish policies and procedures for eliminating or controlling those hazards
  • keep storage areas clean and organized
  • regularly monitor all storage areas to make sure requirements are being met
Rejection of materials & exceptions

Have a documented policy that describes when incoming material should be rejected and how to do it. It should also describe when to make exceptions and how to handle those situations. For example, if the delivery vehicle was dirty but the ingredients or packaging were sufficiently protected and intact, you can still receive the material if you:

  • send a report to the supplier and the transporter documenting the conditions under which the materials were received
  • document what you had to do to make sure it would not contaminate other materials or your product (for example, cleaning dust and debris off the outer wrap or the containers)
Raw milk

Receiving

  • All raw milk must be received in dedicated tank-trucks that meet the requirements under the regulations of the Milk Act.
  • When raw cow or goat milk arrives at your plant, a certified Plant Milk and Cream Grader (PMCG) must grade it based on the regulatory requirements under the Milk Act. PMCGs should reject the milk if it does not meet the requirements.
  • If the tank-truck has been sealed, check the records to make sure the sealing program was followed. If any seals are missing and unaccounted for, the load may have been tampered with and should be rejected. If there is a logical explanation for the missing seal, the load may be accepted. In this case, be sure to document the reason why the seal was missing.
  • Make a record of each shipment received including information such as:
    • volume
    • temperature
    • date and time of receipt
    • person responsible for receiving
    • where the product was stored
    • any unusual activity you observed

Storage

  • If your plant cannot immediately process the incoming raw milk, make sure there are enough tanks or silos to store it.
  • To minimize the growth of micro-organisms, empty, clean and sanitize the raw milk silos and storage tanks at least once every 48 hours.
  • Have a written cleaning program for making sure the cleaning and sanitizing was done properly.
  • Use storage tanks or silos that are easy to clean. This means:
    • they should be made of stainless steel
    • they should be designed so they can be cleaned either by hand (for smaller tanks) or using a CIP system (for larger tanks or silos)
  • While the milk is in the storage tanks or silos, monitor the temperature and make sure it stays between 1°C and 4°C.
Bulk liquid pasteurized dairy ingredients

Receiving

  • If you receive pasteurized dairy products in bulk tank-trucks, you will have to re-pasteurize them in your plant. This is because the tank-truck and the loading and unloading equipment (pipelines, hoses and pumps) are commonly shared with raw milk and cannot be guaranteed to have been properly cleaned to prevent cross-contamination from raw milk.
  • If you receive pasteurized dairy products in bulk tank-trucks and you do not wish to re-pasteurize them, you must have specific vehicles, tanks, product transfer lines and transfer pumps dedicated to pasteurized product only at both the shipping and receiving facilities. These systems must be inspected and approved by your local government inspection agency.
    • This practice can only be applied to certain products that would be subjected to a "kill step" during further processing such as drying or cooking.
    • This practice is not acceptable for fluid milk and cream.
  • Have written policies and procedures to reduce any identified risks and make sure that pasteurized product does not become contaminated. These include:
    • where the pasteurized product can be held before it is processed
    • how long and at what temperature it can be held before it needs to be re-pasteurized
    • how the product is protected from cross-contamination by raw product in the facility
    • how the dedicated tank-truck is cleaned and sanitized
  • If the tank-truck has been sealed, check the records to make sure the sealing program was followed. If any seals are missing and unaccounted for, the load may have been tampered with. Reject the load.
  • Do not receive pasteurized dairy products in re-useable plastic totes, since they cannot be effectively cleaned. Collapsible totes with single-use plastic bag liners are acceptable.
  • When you receive pasteurized dairy products, document the temperature of the pasteurized dairy products (and the inside of the vehicle, if appropriate).
  • If products are delivered in a refrigerated truck, check the vehicle records to confirm the product was kept at between 1°C and 4°C throughout the entire journey.

Storage

  • Store bulk pasteurized dairy products in dedicated tanks or silos. Never store them in a tank or silo that was previously used for raw milk. If you use tanks to store pre-pasteurized product that you are not going to re-pasteurize, empty and clean them no more than 24 hours after filling.
  • While the pasteurized product is in storage tanks or silos, monitor the temperature and make sure it stays between 1°C and 4°C.
  • If you receive pasteurized dairy products in containers (such as cartons, bags or totes), store these containers in a refrigerated area, monitor the temperature and make sure it stays between 1°C and 4°C.
  • Have a written procedure and keep records to make sure the refrigerated area is cleaned and sanitized regularly to minimize the risk of contamination from spills.
  • Rotate inventory so that oldest product is used first. Controlling the storage time and temperature of pasteurized dairy products helps to minimize the growth of micro-organisms.
Packaged ingredients

Receiving

  • When you receive ingredients, visually inspect them to make sure:
    • there are no signs of tampering such as broken seals on the packaging materials
    • the ingredients or packaging you have received are what you ordered
    • there is no opened packaging
    • there is no physical damage to the ingredients
    • there is no dust, debris or signs of pest activities on the ingredients
    • there is no sign of any water damage
    • there is no sign of any contamination from other materials that may be in the vehicle
    • the ingredients have been transported at the temperature recommended by the manufacturer. Use infrared thermometers to check the surface temperature, or open a package and use an immersion-type thermometer to check the internal temperature. If you open a package to check the temperature, throw the material away afterwards unless you can process it to get rid of any contamination that may have been introduced.
  • From time to time, take samples of your ingredients and test them to make sure they meet your specifications.

Storage

  • All ingredients should be stored:
    • according to the manufacturer's instructions
    • in a way that protects their integrity
    • in a way that minimizes the risk of contamination
  • Make sure all ingredients are clearly identified.
  • Be aware of any ingredients that are allergens or contain allergens. Handle and store these ingredients in a way that does not contaminate other ingredients.
  • In general, if an ingredient needs to be refrigerated, store it between 1°C and 4°C. Store frozen ingredients at -18°C or lower. Monitor and record these temperatures regularly.
  • Each day, only bring out the ingredients needed for that day's processing. This reduces clutter in the processing and packaging areas, makes cleanup easier at the end of the day and prevents ingredients from getting wet or contaminated. Packaging material such as cardboard boxes may be a source of yeast and mould, so limiting the amount of ingredients you bring into the area helps to minimize the exposure to these micro-organisms.
  • Any unused materials should be properly covered, labelled and returned to their appropriate storage conditions. Use up any partially used materials before opening a fresh package or container.
  • Rotate ingredients in storage where appropriate so that the oldest product is used first to help make sure all products are used before their "best before" date. This usually means first in, first out (also known as FIFO).
  • Protect ingredients stored at room temperature against contamination and conditions that could cause deterioration. This includes:
    • direct sun
    • excessive heating
    • moisture
    • external contaminants
    • rapid temperature changes that could affect their safety or quality
  • If you stack your ingredients, make sure:
    • there is not too much weight on any containers at the bottom on the stack
    • there is no danger the stacks could fall and damage the containers or expose ingredients to the environment
  • Store materials in a way that allows you to clean the area effectively and control pests. For example, store items off the floor and approximately 45 cm (18 in.) away from the walls.
  • Keep refrigerated storage areas at the proper humidity to prevent condensation, and keep them clean and sanitized to help prevent mould.
  • Make sure condensate pipes empty into a drain to reduce contamination.
  • Keep refrigeration units including their condensate collection trays and drain lines clean and maintained on a regular schedule to prevent the growth of mold, spoilage bacteria and pathogens.
  • Treat condensate trays with sanitizer to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria that could cross-contaminate employees' clothing or skin or other areas of your plant and eventually food products.
Packaging

Receiving

Apply the same requirements you apply when receiving packaged ingredients.

Storage

  • All packaging materials should be stored:
    • in a way that protects their integrity
    • in a way that minimizes the risk of contamination
  • Make sure all packaging materials are clearly identified.
  • Make sure the packaging material is food grade. For example, get a certified letter of guarantee from the supplier.
  • Protect packaging against damage, contamination and conditions that could cause deterioration. This includes:
    • direct sun
    • excessive heating
    • moisture
    • external contaminants
    • rapid temperature changes that could affect their safety or quality
  • Store materials in a way that allows you to clean the area effectively and control pests. For example, store items off the floor and approximately 45 cm (18 in.) away from the walls.
Non-food Chemicals

Receiving

  • Apply the same requirements you apply when you are receiving packaged ingredients.
  • Non-food chemicals include:
    • water-treatment chemicals
    • boiler-treatment chemicals
    • chemicals for cleaning and sanitizing
    • materials used for maintenance (such as oils, lubricants, Freon, oxygen and acetylene gases for welding, etc.)
    • other materials used for food contact surfaces
  • Make sure all non-food chemicals you use are acceptable for use in a food plant. Acceptable products may be listed in the Reference Listing of Accepted Construction, Packaging Materials and Non Food Chemical Products published by CFIA.
  • If chemicals are not on the list, plant operators may seek assurance of their acceptability by obtaining either
    • a letter of non-objection from Health Canada, or
    • a letter of guarantee from the supplier of the chemical
  • For more information on the acceptability of chemicals, visit CFIA's website.

Storage

  • Store chemicals in a dry, well-ventilated area where there is no possibility that they will contaminate food or food contact surfaces.
  • If chemicals are regularly used in food-handling areas, label them clearly and store them in a way that will not lead to contamination of food, food contact surfaces or packaging materials.
  • Clearly label all bulk chemicals and any containers you use to dispense smaller portions of these chemicals. Do not use food product containers to dispense or dispose of chemicals.
  • Only allow authorized and properly trained employees to handle chemicals.
  • Make sure chemical spill kits are available to clean up spills.
  • Take steps to contain spills that may occur to bulk chemical containers (such as installing a curb on the floor of the bulk chemical storage area).
  • Make sure proper safety equipment is available, functioning and clean.

Finished Product Storage and Shipping

Storing finished product
  • Identify the hazards associated with storing your finished product.
  • Make sure finished products are stored and handled under the proper conditions to prevent deterioration (such as spoilage) and damage (such as crushing or forklift damage).
  • If the finished products need refrigeration, store them between 1°C and 4°C. Store frozen products at -18°C or less. Monitor storage room temperatures regularly.
  • If products that need refrigeration were not packaged between 1°C and 4°C, arrange them on skids or shelving when placing them in the refrigeration unit in a way that lets enough air flow around the products to cool them to storage temperature as quickly as possible.
  • Store materials that are sensitive to humidity under humidity-controlled conditions.
  • Rotate stock to ensure oldest products are shipped first to maximize their retail shelf life.
  • Pay special attention to the temperature when your refrigeration units are defrosting. Don't overload their cold storage capacity.
  • Make sure condensate pipes empty into a drain to reduce contamination.
  • Keep refrigeration units including their condensate collection trays and drain lines clean and maintained on a regular schedule to prevent the growth of mold, spoilage bacteria and pathogens.
  • Treat condensate trays with sanitizer to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria that could cross-contaminate employees' clothing or skin or other areas of your plant and eventually food products.
  • If products can be stored at room temperature, protect them against contamination and conditions that could affect their safety or quality. This includes:
    • direct sun
    • excessive heating
    • moisture
    • external contaminants
    • rapid temperature changes that could affect the integrity of the product container or the safety or quality of the product
  • Be careful about stacking dairy products. Clearly identify each container, and make sure the stack of containers won't fall over. Make sure they are protected from pests, moisture and too much weight.
  • To make cleaning easy and to control pests, store items a suitable distance from the walls and off the floor. If you are storing products for more than one month, put them on pallets approximately 45 cm (18 in.) from the wall.
  • If you are storing other food products in a finished product storage room, make sure they will not contaminate the dairy products or ingredients. Stack food products on pallets or shelves in a neat and well-organized way.
  • Do not store eggs in finished product storage rooms. Eggs may contain pathogens that could cross-contaminate your products.
  • Do not store any other products in finished product storage rooms that may transmit odours or flavours.
Shipping finished product

Finished products must be properly protected during shipping. The type of vehicle or containers required depends on the type of product and the conditions under which it has to be transported.

Unless you take effective control measures, finished products may become contaminated during shipping or may not reach their destination in a suitable condition for consumption. This can happen even when proper hygiene control measures were taken when you made the product.

Shipping control measures should include:

  • protecting product from potential sources of contamination
  • separating product from non-compatible products on the same load
  • protecting product from damage that could make it unsuitable for consumption
  • keeping the product at the right temperature to prevent the growth of spoilage micro-organisms that may shorten the shelf life of the product

See the "Transport Vehicles" section below for more information.

Transport Vehicles

The vehicles and containers used to transport food should be kept clean and in good condition. If you use the same vehicle or container for transporting different foods or for transporting non-food products, it must be effectively cleaned and disinfected (if necessary) between loads.

Criteria for receiving
  • When you receive ingredients or packaging materials, visually inspect the vehicle to confirm:
    • it is suitable for transporting food (it should be well built, maintained in good condition, easy to clean and enclosed to protect the load from dust, fumes and weather)
    • it is clean:
      • the operator can prove when it was last cleaned
      • it doesn't have any odours
      • there are no signs of rodent activity
    • if other items are carried on the same vehicle, they are:
      • not items that could potentially contaminate your ingredients or packaging materials
      • properly separated from your ingredients or packaging materials (for example, by using physical dividers or plastic overwrapping)
    • if the ingredients or finished product had to be kept at a specific temperature:
      • the vehicle has kept them at that temperature
      • the temperature was monitored and recorded throughout the journey
  • Make a record of the condition of the vehicle for each delivery received.
  • Sign shipment invoices and keep them on file as a record of receipt.
Criteria for shipping
  • Before products are loaded onto the vehicle, visually inspect the vehicle to make sure:
    • it is at the right temperature for the product being shipped
    • it can keep the product at the right temperature throughout the journey
    • the temperature can be checked during the journey
    • the vehicle is in good condition, clean, free of odours and free of any signs of rodent or insect activities
    • the product is effectively protected from contamination, including dust and fumes
    • cleaning records are available
    • no other items being shipped in the vehicle could contaminate your product
    • your product will be effectively separated from any other types of foods or non-food items in the vehicle during the journey
  • Write down the results of your inspection.
  • Make sure the finished product being loaded is in sound condition with no open, leaking or damaged containers. Load the vehicle in a way that prevents your product from becoming damaged or contaminated.
  • For products requiring refrigeration, pre-cool the trailer, turn off the reefer immediately before loading (to prevent frost build-up), load quickly and then turn the reefer back on immediately after loading.
Transport vehicles within your plant

This section covers equipment such as carts and forklifts used to move ingredients, packaging and finished product within your plant.

  • Maintain this equipment carefully. Carts, motorized forklifts and hand trucks take a lot of abuse.
  • Forklifts and hand trucks often have painted surfaces. Make sure the paint isn't flaking off, since this could contaminate the products.
  • Wash transportation equipment frequently. Carts should be easily cleaned and designed to prevent water from collecting in them. Regularly clean and sanitize equipment wheels.
  • Not all motorized forklifts can be used in all areas of the plant. Because propane may contaminate some stored food, use electric forklifts in food-processing areas.
  • Create a monitoring program to make sure that any transport vehicles restricted to specific areas of the plant are used only in those areas. For example, a hand truck used to deliver ingredients into a raw batching area should not be used to deliver packaging materials into a finished product area.

Product Returns

Finished products may be returned to your plant for several reasons. These include:

  • expired shelf life
  • customer complaints
  • company product withdrawals
  • recalls

These products may contaminate your plant environment, your equipment or other dairy products in your plant. Finished products that have left your direct control must not be salvaged and may not be used for processing or rework.

Have a written policy that clearly defines how to handle product returns in your plant. It should include:

  • clearly identifying product that has been returned
  • creating a dedicated area for returns where they cannot contaminate other finished products or be mistaken for finished product to be shipped out
  • monitoring the frequency of returns
  • investigating unusually high numbers of returns
  • documenting that returned products have been safely disposed

Training

Train your employees on your receiving, transportation and storage program. They should understand the dangers of improper procedures as well as what conditions can result in unsafe products or poor-quality products.

The training should cover:

  • all the documents that make up your receiving, transportation and storage program (including records)
  • how to access these documents
  • how to fill out records
  • what specifications your incoming materials should meet
  • what conditions delivery and shipping vehicles should meet
  • when to reject incoming materials and how to handle exceptions
  • how to properly unload incoming materials and store them
  • the proper storage conditions for ingredients, packaging and finished products
  • the proper conditions for loading shipping vehicles and transporting finished products
  • how to receive, store and handle all non-food chemicals
  • how to handle returned products properly
  • how to properly use and maintain transport vehicles within the plant such as carts, motorized tow motors, hand lift trucks, etc.

Monitoring and Follow-up

Establish procedures to monitor:

  • how materials are received
  • how materials are stored (including finished product)
  • how finished products are shipped

This includes regularly reviewing reports and following up on requests for corrective actions.

Resources

Dairy Food Safety Advisor, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA)

1-877-424-1300 ext. 519-826-4089 (toll free) or 519-826-4089 (local)

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency's Dairy Establishment Inspection Manual (CFIA's DEIM)

The Ontario Dairy Council

CODEX CXP_001: Recommended International Code of Practice: General Principles of Food Hygiene

Templates


For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca
Author: OMAFRA Staff
Creation Date: 23 June 2014
Last Reviewed: 23 October 2014