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john65pennington's avatar

Are wood delivery pallets making us sick?

Asked by john65pennington (29192points) March 5th, 2011

Have you ever stopped to think that about 80% of every food item is delivered on wood pallets? Recent tests show that these pallets are never cleaned. Vegetables, fish, bread…just about everything is transported on wood pallets. Here is the problem: the wood in the pallets are absorbing blood that has dripped from different food and animal products. In some cases, ecoli emerges and transfers its bacteria to other foods and then to you and I from the same pallet. Question: is there a better and healthier way to transport our food, other than wood pallets?

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6 Answers

crisw's avatar


Do you have any links to data or studies on this? While pallets are indeed very dirty, most products I have seen on them have been tightly wrapped in plastic. And E. coli lives in the intestines, not in blood (food poisoning is caused by fecal contamination) and it cannot survive very long on wood surfaces unless they are damp and cool.

Cruiser's avatar

I’d worry more about the handles of the shopping carts the JP…they have cooties galore!

incendiary_dan's avatar

Maybe not shipping the food 3000 miles? Eat local?

Mamradpivo's avatar

It’s incredibly rare to place something directly on a pallet. The primary reason for this is ease of removal. Food, etc, will be shipped in boxes to be unloaded quickly when the truck gets to its final destination. Meanwhile, most food (or any other goods) goes by truck from the source to a distribution/break-bulk center where things are re-palletized for final delivery to the store. Nobody would ever place, for instance, bananas directly on the pallet. So I’m not too concerned about this one.

But Great Answer to @incendiary_dan. Eating local is the best way to ensure the safety and carbon footprint of your food.

JonGreene's avatar

National Consumers League released a study in May of 2010, confirming the dangers that wood pallets pose to food. The thing that people seem to forget is that, even when food is wrapped, the broken boards, shards and nails on wood pallets puncture any protective wrapping. Anyone who ever has worked in a warehouse or transfer station has seen sugar, flour, and other food all over the floor from that type of damage. The transfer of pathogens and bacteria from dirty pallets to food is more than just possible – it’s highly likely.

For more information, check out this great site that I found:

crisw's avatar


I must point out that the site that you cited is run by a plastic pallet seller! There is a slight conflict of interest there…

Here’s an article with a more balanced point of view -it acknowledges potential problems (with wood and plastic pallets) and also discusses what can be done about it.

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