Hygienic Use and Reuse of Box-pallets and Pallets
The light wood packaging is considered a single-use packaging, although the hygienic unobtrusive reuse of it as transport container is still accepted in several European countries.
Re-use is more widespread in industrial packaging, for example agricultural box pallets, or in pallets where there is no direct contact with food.
In this sense, the Danish Technological Institute (www.teknologisk.dk), leading a joint research with Nordic, German and Swiss research institutes, studied the incidence of bacteria on pallets used in 14 food industries (salted fish, meat, dairy, vegetables and bread) on a sample of 15,000 wooden pallets and plastic (polyethylene and high density polyethylene).
The bacterial count on the pallets of different wood species showed to be on average 15% lower than on plastic pallets. The study concluded that wood is a hygienic material because it kills bacteria by offering poorer living conditions than plastic or steel. Similarly, concluded that the cleaning of the pallets with pressurized water also kill bacteria.
A Nordic study, financed by Nordic Wood, Nordic Industrial Fund and national funds focused on the comparison of the hygienic properties of six different types of wooden pallets (pine, spruce and beech) and two types of plastic pallets (PE and HD-PE), used for storing and transporting food products. The difference between wood and plastic pallets was negligible when determined by analysis of variance (p>0,05). The pallets were cleaned with high-pressure cold water and the cleaning efficiency was evaluated very good for all kind of pallets tested.
The German Institute for Food Technology , aiming that the antibacterial effect of the wood should be tested in practical use, carried out field tests in 14 companies - in the meat, dairy, vegetable and bakery sectors - with commercial wooden pallet, a special treated hygiene wood pallet and plastic pallets. The pallets were used for six months at the premises as a transport device and periodically checked for its hygienic condition.
In this research project, the antibacterial effect of pine heartwood in a practical application was tested. The results demonstrate the hygienic use of the wood pallet in in the food industry has much better hygienic quality of surfaces compared to plastic pallets. That also concludes in the antibacterial effect of pine heartwood.