Odorous Taints Linked to Treated Wood Pallets

September 19, 2012
Jennifer Markarian

Jennifer Markarian is manufacturing editor of Pharmaceutical Technology.

It is amazing what the human nose knows.

It is amazing what the human nose knows.  Well, those who originally detected a musty, moldy odor in pharmaceutical and healthcare products didn’t know where it came from.  But the odorous taints that resulted in product recalls were found to come from tribromoanisole (TBA) and trichloroanisole (TCA), and have been linked to treated wooden pallets from sources outside the US, the Parenteral Drug Association (PDA) reported in a September PharmTech article, which summarizes the findings of the recent PDA Technical Report No. 55 on detecting and mitigating taints and odors from TBA and TCA.

TBA and TCA haloanisole taints, which can be smelled at parts-per-trillion levels, are generated by the fungal biomethylation of wood preservatives that are used in South America and other regions of the world, but not in the United States, the authors report.  The odor can migrate from wooden pallets to anything shipped and stored on the pallets, such as plastic packaging components.  The PDA TBA Task Force members discuss the importance of mitigating tainting, including eliminating the use of the offending wood preservatives in the supply chain.

Perhaps a possible solution is using plastic pallets instead of wooden ones. Plastic pallets are lighter, more durable, and can be recycled. Plastic pallet use is growing. Many different pallet designs are available, and some advertise that they are heat-sterilizable for shipping food or pharmaceuticals.  Do you think this would be a good solution for the pharmaceutical industry?

Related Content:

PharmTech Talk