ISPM-15 (Pallet Fumigation)
In order to avoid the proliferation of pests and transmitters of diseases due to packaging or wooden containers, FAO has developed regulations that are called International Regulations on Phytosanitary Measures and are known as ISPM-15, related to fumigation of pallets. Much of the international trade is done using wooden containers of some kind: boxes, pallets, etc.
Untreated and porous wood and can house numerous organisms, from molds to insects. These living beings that can travel with wood are sometimes vectors of diseases, and can spoil the transported goods or become an invasive species in the destination ecosystem, in case of long-distance trade. Others, such as rye ergot, can naturally generate really dangerous toxins that go unnoticed until the relevant hygienic-sanitary controls are performed.
In Spain, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries is responsible for ISMP-15, which is mandatory for non-EU exports. The person responsible for supervising that everything is correct is the shipper.
When talking about fumigation of pallets and fresh food some people are alarmed. It is worth remembering that biocides must be of low toxicity to humans and the environment, although we will explain the procedures listed in the ISPM-15 for the fumigation of pallets.
- Conventional heat treatment, by steam or oven drying chamber. The code for this type of treatment is HT.
- Heat treatment with dielectric heating, such as microwaves. Code DH.
- Fumigation with methyl bromide, a non-recommended practice. In some countries, including many in the European Union, the new regulations require that only heat treatments be used for wood disinfection, in order to avoid human accidents and environmental problems. Code MB.
Disinfected pallets will be recognizable by an identification label. This stamp must include:
- The IPPC symbol (NIMF in Spanish).
- The two ISO letters of each country, always in capital letters.
- A three-digit number that is assigned by the Ministry to the manufacturer.
- The two capital letters code that indicates the disinfection treatment to which the wood has been subjected, i.e., HT, DH or MB.
In addition, this seal must be accompanied by a certificate of compliance that the manufacturer will grant to the buyer. In the case of Spain, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries is responsible for granting permission to the supplier to mark the packaging and pallets.
The regulations state that some types of wood are exempt from disinfection treatment. This is the case of packaging made with conglomerate, with wood made from shavings or with plywood.
Wood less than 5 mm thick and barrels of wines or spirits are also exempt from disinfection, according to ISPM-15.
Countries that are part of the International Plant Protection Convention require compliance with ISPM-15 regulations and pallet fumigation on all imports. Remember that there may be countries with even stricter national legislation.
Here you can check the updated list of countries adhering to the ISPM-15 regulations, prepared by the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and Environment.
Tandem HSE can advise you on everything related to the ISPM-15 regulations related to the fumigation of pallets and wooden containers, transport and regulation that affects chemicals, whether you are a producer or a merchant.