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Food and Beverage Logistics

AIB Standards: What are they and why are they important?

Alex Stark | June 16, 2019

AIB International, formerly the American Institute for Baking, was founded in 1919 to “put science to work for bakers.” Since then, AIB has grown into one of the world’s foremost training organizations on food safety, setting AIB standards for quality and safety.

In the warehousing and logistics industry, we hear of AIB mostly in the context of warehouse inspections. AIB is not a government agency, so companies elect to invite AIB to do a yearly inspection that ensures facilities and processes uphold product integrity, comply with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMS), and achieve Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) recognition. 

AIB StandardsFood manufacturing and distribution are highly regulated functions, and rightly so. Food contamination during the supply chain journey can have catastrophic consequences for consumers. And the cost to companies can cripple profitability and shareholder confidence.

According to a May, 2016 Fortune magazine article, 18% of international companies surveyed said the financial hit from a recall and related lost sales was between $30 million and $99 million; 5% said the impact was $100 million or more. The long-term reputational damage to companies, post recall, can have an even steeper price tag.

These same companies impacted by food safety gaffes rely heavily on third-party logistics providers to maintain safe handling and shipping practices while products are in their care (e.g., food warehousing). For these manufacturers, having an objective, expert party like AIB confirm that food safety practices are adequate at the logistics facility is an important part of a vetting process for logistics providers.

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An AIB Standards Inspection: The Basics

AIB standards include the following five categories, which form the basis of inspection steps. Some apply more to the manufacturing environment than distribution.

  • Operational Methods and Personnel Practices – the receipt, storage, monitoring, handling, and processing of raw materials to manufacture and distribute safe final product. Facilities need to be confident that people, processes, and conditions do not introduce a food safety concern.
  • Maintenance for Food Safety – the design, upkeep, and management of equipment, buildings, and grounds to provide a sanitary, efficient, and reliable manufacturing environment. AIB standards here provide best practices for optimizing the design and care of the facility and equipment so that they are easy to manage and do not create sanitation issues.
  • Cleaning Practices – the cleaning and sanitizing of equipment, utensils, and buildings to provide a wholesome and safe processing environment. The AIB inspection will look at the methods of cleaning, the types of chemicals used, the frequency of cleaning activities, and the control of microbes.
  • Integrated Pest Management – the assessment, monitoring, and management of pest activity to identify, prevent, and eliminate conditions that could promote or sustain a pest population. The inspection considers both removal of any pests and measures to prevent pests from ever having the opportunity to thrive in a food environment.
  • Adequacy of Prerequisite and Food Safety Programs – this standard is largely about documentation. AIB wants to ensure that all departments are working together to deliver a safe product. It is not enough to have programs in place, the programs must be formalized through designing, planning, management, documentation, and review.

Benefits of an AIB Inspection

Adhering to AIB standards through an inspection process leads to the following benefits:

  • Identify root causes, not just on symptoms
  • Educate personnel through interaction with an inspector
  • Identify, reduce, eliminate, and prevent food hazards in a facility
  • Prevent expensive and damaging recalls
  • Comply with government regulation
  • Improve and maintain a healthy, sanitary environment for food handling
  • Produce safe food products

As a major food logistics company to both manufacturers and retailers, KANE has participated in the AIB inspection process for over 30 years. Shippers should ask potential 3PL partners for the results of recent AIB inspections, which assign a score based on the extent of improvements needed.

The very best providers won’t below 180 on a 200 point scale for any of the five categories: Operational Methods and Personnel Practices; Maintenance for Food Safety; Cleaning Practices; Integrated Pest Management; Adequacy of Prerequisite and Food Safety Programs. KANE’s average aggregate score (cumulative score for all five categories) is 967, which is designated by AIB as Recognition of High Achievement – Superior.