Blog July 27, 2014

The EFTCO food tank cleaning standard: what, why and how?

By Nicola Byers

EFTCO, the European Federation of Tank Cleaning Organisations, has recently launched the first ever quality assessment standard for food tank cleaning stations. Intermodal Eye takes a look at the what, why and how.

What is the new EFTCO Food Assessment scheme?

This initiative from EFTCO, the European Federation of Tank Cleaning Organisations, aims to provide a single standard and uniform system for auditing the quality of food tank cleaning stations. The EFTCO Food Assessment is based on the existing and well-established tank cleaning SQAS (Safety Quality Assessment System) from Cefic, the European Chemical Industry Council.

Cefic allowed EFTCO to use SQAS as the base for creating the new standard, which was then tailored by a working group of food cleaning specialists to include questions specific to food tanks. EFTCO estimates that its Food Assessment will take around a half-a-day longer to complete than a standard tank cleaning SQAS.

Why is it needed?

EFTCO says that food companies have been conducting a growing number of tank cleaning depot audits, having recognised that this was one of the few links in the transport chain not being actively controlled. Just as with the chemical industry before it, EFTCO felt that the food sector would benefit from a recognised single industry standard, versus a proliferation of audit schemes from individual companies.

The organisation says that having a single standard will save time and cost for all parties, just as SQAS has in the chemical tank cleaning sector. Of course, trust has to be built with the food industry for the standard to take hold. Here, EFTCO says that having independent and capable assessors is a key factor. The organisation is using existing SQAS accredited assessors for its new programme, with specific food standards training now well underway.

How will it work?

Just like SQAS, assessors will use a 1 or 0 to indicate if an item has or has not been implemented. Assessors can also add comments or upload files. After their report is complete, tank cleaning stations can also add comments or upload an improvement plan.

EFTCO says that the new system is “very flexible” and has been designed to meet the demands of all parties involved. New EFTCO cleaning codes can also be added to cover information needs on the EFTCO/Cefic/ECTA European Cleaning Document (ECD), so only one document is needed to verify the cleaning process, making it instantly understandable in 18 European languages.

The organisation has also developed a protected EFTCO food logo for tank cleaning stations that have a valid food assessment, providing a clear differentiation between food and chemical cleaning. By printing this logo on the ECD, says EFTCO President Erwig Seliarts, “users can see that cleaning was undertaken in a station meeting high quality standards”. The same ECD can also be used for food and chemical cleaning.

EFTCO has also developed an interactive website to support the new scheme, with a public section where users will be able to find a list of SQAS and EFTCO food-assessed companies and search for tank cleaning stations by region. The password-protected secure area of the site will host the food assessment reports and will be available to EFTCO member cleaning stations (currently nearly 470 across Europe), assessors and users.

Intermodal Eye thanks Bulk Distributor for its informative reporting on this issue

EFTCO food assessment infographic