The Ultimate Guide to International Shipping Cleaning Standards

Jun 25, 2020  Kiera Falcus Kiera Falcus

We are living in an age, where at current, hygiene is more important than ever before. Due to the outbreak of COVID – 19 which has very quickly become a global pandemic, we are having to change the ways in which we conduct the business of all sorts – whether that be shopping, teaching, or even shipping.

However, did you know that long before the age of COVID – 19, there were already certain international shipping cleaning standards that were in place, that must be meticulously followed?

Read on to find out more about the international shipping standards that keep your parcels – and their recipients – safe.


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What are the Main Contamination Risks in Shipping?

When it comes to shipping, the contamination risks are arguably not all that different from those you would find on land and in the home. It’s very important that contamination risks are eliminated in shipping, because of the nature of some of the products, such as UK meds for example. 

The main types of contamination that are commonly found in shipping containers can include the following things:

  • INSECTS. Common insects and household pests can attempt to build their habitats in shipping containers. They do this by lodging themselves and building nests amongst and inside shipping containers. The main critters to watch out for are moths, spiders, bees, beetles, ants, and wasps.
  • PLANTS. Okay, so this might not sound as gross, but the truth is they can be a real nuisance. Issues with plants growing on and in shipping containers arise when seeds have been left to germinate.
  • SNAILS. Snails go alongside insects but deserve a section all of their own. Even exotic snails such as Giant African Land Snails have been known to make their way into shipping containers. The last thing you want is their slime all over your goods! 
  • ANIMALS. Unfortunately, the pest issue doesn’t just begin and end with insects and creepy crawlies alone. In some cases, livestock such as animals has been known to find their way into – and onto the – cargo. The most common of these tend to be toads, rodents, and geckos – however, another animal matter has been known to be found, such as feces and hair. This is dangerous as it can spread disease.
  • FUNGI AND SOIL. Last of all, but by no means least, fungi and soil can contaminate shipping goods. Soil and anything soil-related tends to be found when shipping containers have not been cleaned properly and hygiene standards not met. Furthermore, if containers are left in damp and dark conditions, this is when the growth of fungi becomes a real risk. 


How are Containers Checked – and Cleaned – Prior to Shipping?

Now you know what the main contamination risks in shipping containers are, it’s likely that you’ll want to know how professional sea freight companies check and clean their ships and containers prior to shipping.

This is usually done by using the following method:

  • If they are aware containers are coming from a port with a higher risk of contamination, then they are the most thoroughly checked. An example of this would be exotic countries with a higher risk of African Land Snails, for example.
  • All containers that go through rural areas and countryside are also heavily regulated and inspected.
  • Data is collected over specific time frames on each kind of container.
  • In terms of wharf areas and empty container yards, the surveillance on these is immediately increased to help prevent animals and pests from getting onto the ship in the first place. Prevention is, undoubtedly, the most effective solution. 


Who’s Responsibility is the Hygiene of the Shipping Contents?

Of course, everyone in the shipping industry and the process will have various strengths and responsibilities.

Last of all, when it comes to hygiene and cleaning issues, the main responsibility is that of a biosecurity officer.

They will be there to visually assess the containers in question and will be the one to make the decision on how to decontaminate a contaminated container or product in the most effective way.

They usually look at the following things in particular:

  • The bottom rails of containers.
  • All-around and inside any twist-lock fittings.
  • Any container tops which may be deemed necessary.
  • Inside of the pockets of forklifts.
  • Underneath and across containers and products.

Their job is to assess the level and risk of contamination, and then to come up with the best way of getting rid of it once and for all. Usually, levels of contamination are split into:

  • Low Contamination.
  • High Contamination.

And what needs to be done next will entirely depend on this analysis.


Thank you for reading today!

Kiera is an English Literature and Creative Writing graduate who now works freelance as a content writer.

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