Ifco Smart Guardian

Ifco's SmartGuardian system

Reusable plastic container specialist Ifco has revealed that testing conducted by a certified independent laboratory on its RPC washing and cleaning has confirmed damaging pathogens – viruses and bacteria – are removed or deactivated by the process.

“The research and results from Ifco‘s ongoing testing should provide peace of mind to growers and retailers, who can continue to use Ifco RPCs knowing that our containers remain safe, efficient and a sustainable packaging for tomatoes and other fresh food items,” said Dan Martin, President of Ifco North America. “Food safety is our top priority because nothing else we do is possible without it.”

After discovery of the Tobamovirus, Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus (ToBRFV), Ifco performed additional challenge studies to reassure its customers.

An independent, certified laboratory, Eurofins BioDiagnostics, performed the challenge study to validate Ifco’s washing and sanitation process was effective against this new plant virus. The results from the independent testing showed the wash systems employed by Ifco effectively remove and/or inactivate the ToBRFV.

More than 1bn Ifco RPCs are used each year to transport fresh food from farms and processing facilities to retail locations, and RPCs have never been cited as the cause of a foodborne incident.

IFCO continuously monitors the wash and sanitising process through its SmartGuardian software, which monitors and records critical sanitation parameters, including water pressure, water temperature, sanitiser and detergent concentration. 

As part of its safety protocol, SmartGuardian issues alerts if parameters fall below or rise above warning levels and will shut down processing, if necessary, until the system is running properly again.

Ifco said that it was consistently seeking ways to bolster its food safety systems, such as performing verification testing of RPCs including surveillance testing for ToBRFV in multiple markets.

“Ifco has a strong commitment to food safety, and we are confident about the effectiveness of our sanitation process,' Martin added. 'That is why we are open and transparent about our protocols, testing methods and results.”