When thinking of foodborne illness, some of the most tragic and horrific stories come to mind—rats in the peanut butter, salmonella on vegetables, among so many others. These can arise from many factors at the production, processing, and storage levels. But, what about transport? Foodborne illness can occur anywhere and at any time, so of course opportunities for bacteria arise when transporting food.
CDC estimates that each year there are 48 million sick, 128,000 hospitalized, and 3,000 dead from foodborne diseases in the US. Rather than simply calling for better contamination communication and post-infection care, regulatory bodies have called for stricter rules on food safety in order to prevent foodborne illness at the source.
The goal of every food and beverage business is to provide safe food to our consumers from farm to fork. To make that happen, attention is needed across every piece, including production, processing, and transportation.
What is a foodborne illness?
Foodborne illness comes in three forms: physical, chemical, and biological. The physical type comes from actual physical objects in your food, such as glass, fingernails, hair, dirt, and otherwise. The chemical type comes from non-edible chemicals entering the food, such as bleach, nitrogen, salts, and otherwise.
These two types of foodborne illness fall out of the scope of transportation, as generally, foods are safe from these types of contamination during transport. However, during shipping, the opportunity is abundant for the third type, bacteria growth. The main factors that contribute to the bacterial type of foodborne illness during transport are time, temperature, nourishment, and moisture.
Food transport can take quite a long time. If the chicken processing plant is in the middle of Texas and the buyer is outside of Texas, the truck transport time could be upwards of 10 hours. This means that bacteria have 10 hours to figure out how to thrive, which is plenty of time, as one bacterium can multiply to over two million bacteria in just 7 hours.
Bacteria flourish in the range of 41 degrees to 145 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a whopping range with a 100+ degree swing. Of course, most food transport occurs through refrigerated trucks now. However, thinking accurately and holistically about temperature changes during shipping can show how difficult it may be to keep that temperature down. A 110-degree day in Texas means that the trailer door cannot be opened!
Like all living organisms, bacteria need sustenance to multiply. Their favorite foods include fish, dairy, and meat, especially poultry. Wherever these products have touched, the bacteria are ready to follow. This includes surfaces of containers, pieces of shipping equipment, trucks, and beyond.
Like nourishment, bacteria need water to multiply as well. Their favorite sources of water include all things liquid, like sauces and juices, as well as juicy meats. And, you guessed it, they especially love poultry. Moisture can come in all shapes and sizes during shipping, from both the food itself, food that is being shipped alongside it, condensation of refrigerated items, among so many other ways.
But you still haven’t told us what this has to do with a box.
ProBin company was built around innovation, cost savings, and efficiencies. Since our Ultimate Bin has no belly band, we’ve cut out the prospect for bacteria to have space to grow. Our poly-woven outer sleeve and our perfect density board container leaves less room for moisture to seep, which pushes out the moisture-driven opportunity for foodborne illness to thrive.
Do you want to learn more about our innovation? Check out our new LinkedIn profile! We would love to see you hit that follow button. Not on social media? That’s totally fine—head on over to the page all about our Ultimate Bulk Bin!