Outgoing senator adds fuel to plastic versus wood pallet debate

By: 
January 07, 2011

It’s round two for the plastic versus wooden pallet battle as Christopher Dodd (D-CT) closed out his 30-year career in the U.S. Senate by firing off a letter to Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg—the latest salvo in the saga pitting the National Wooden Pallet and Container Association (NWPCA) against Intelligent Global Pooling Systems (iGPS Co. LLC). iGPS, headquartered in Orlando, FL, is operator of the world’s first pallet rental service to provide all-plastic pallets with embedded RFID tags, according to the company.
   
iGPS says “[The letter], a hit-and-run statement issued on behalf of the wood pallet industry by former U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd, moments before his retirement from Congress, is the latest in a cynical attempt to scare the public, and contradicts his recent vote for a landmark food safety bill that called into question the safety of wood pallets to the nation’s food supply.”
   
Dodd’s letter to the FDA urged the agency to notify “food manufacturers, transporters and retailers inspected by the FDA that plastic pallets containing decaBDE are inappropriate for use in scenarios that may bring decabromine into contact with food,” according to a release by the National Wooden Pallet and Container Association. Dodd recommended the FDA “Develop and disseminate education and training materials for FDA inspectors to enable them to identify plastic pallets that contain decaBDE, recognize scenarios of use that may bring decaBDE into food contact, and be provided clear guidance regarding enforcement and reporting requirements.”
   
In response, iGPS is calling for a formal investigation into the misleading and abusive trade practices of the wood pallet industry, saying the Jan. 5 actions by the wooden pallet industry spread “false and misleading information about the safety of plastic pallets” and epitomize the “reckless and disreputable character of the industry.”
   
In a statement released by iGPS, Chairman and CEO Bob Moore, said, “There is not a morsel of truth in former Senator Dodd’s letter. Either the Senator was purposely misled or he decided to do a friend a last-minute favor by repeating spoon-fed mistruths and scare tactics.”
   
Moore goes on to comment as to Senator Dodd’s knowledge of the “concerns about wood pallets and the risk they pose to the nation’s food supply.” He noted a few of the problems with wood pallets and asked if Sen. Dodd knew of these, including “independent tests that showed that up to 30 percent of wood pallets contain e.Coli and Salmonella, just to name a few of the deadly pathogens that are commonly found on wood pallets; . . . millions of imported drugs were recalled in 2010 because of wood pallet contamination,” and that “wood pallets were responsible for some of the worst and most deadly fires in the nation.”
   
Moore stated that Dodd’s letter (see it in its entirety on the NWPCA website), “is just another example of the cynical and scurrilous tactics on which the wooden pallet industry has relied. The correlation could not be clearer: as more companies abandon wooden pallets for cleaner, safer and smarter alternatives, the more outrageous and desperate the wooden pallet industry’s behavior has become.”
   
iGPS  (www.igps.net) is now calling upon the U.S. Department of Justice and Florida’s Attorney General to conduct a formal investigation into the abusive trade practices and cynical, manipulative political practices of the wooden pallet industry. iGPS noted that the company is “setting a new standard in pallet hygiene, as its pallets are easily cleaned, do not absorb fluids that can cross-contaminate food and never require treatment with toxic pesticides or fungicides. In fact, iPGS’ pallet is the world’s only rental pallet to receive Food Equipment Certification from NSF International, the foremost testing and certification authority with respect to food-related equipment,” iGPS stated in its release.
   
In other recent actions, iGPS filed suit against the NWPCA after the association publicly accused plastic pallets from iGPS to be the cause of contaminated butter in the Dallas, Texas, area. Tests proved that the contamination came from the printed paper in which the butter was wrapped. —Clare Goldsberry
   

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