Transporting food during warm weather

Safety checklist when transporting food during warm weather

As the summer approaches, commercial drivers who transport perishable food should be reminded of their company- and/or shipper-mandated safety precautions. A little vigilance may prevent a rejected load at the receiver. Consider the following suggested practices.

Tranport Perishable Food - Pickup

  • ❑ Know the correct shipping temperature for the product.
  • ❑ Find out if the reefer unit should be in stop/start or continuous mode.
  • ❑ Perform a pretrip of the reefer unit, including the following components:
    • Belts
    • Fluids:
      • Levels (oil, coolant, and fuel), and
      • Signs of leakage
    • Electrical connections
    • Chute or duct condition
    • Compartment door seals
  • ❑ Test the reefer unit by making sure:
    • It starts and stays running, and
    • The thermometer works.
  • ❑ Before loading:
    • Precool the trailer, and
    • Get the box down to temperature.
  • ❑ Minimize loading time, unless backed up to a cold storage dock.
  • ❑ For proper air flow, use:
    • Spacers on the sidewalls and at the ends of the trailer, and
    • Pallets on the floor.
  • ❑ Close trailer doors immediately after pulling away from the dock.

Tranport Perishable Food - En route

  • ❑ Inspect the trailer’s exterior for damage or signs of tampering.
  • ❑ Check for signs of leakage (fluids) or other problems with the reefer unit.
  • ❑ Monitor the temperature function of the refrigeration unit:
    • After each stop, or
    • At least once every three hours.
  • ❑ Check the reefer unit’s fuel level.
  • ❑ Keep in-transit time to a minimum to reduce opportunity for spoilage.
  • ❑ Record box temperatures at specific intervals either manually or through the temperature log on the unit.
Tranport Perishable Food - Delivery
  • ❑ Check and document overall condition of the product:
    • Damage
    • Quality
    • Temperature
  • ❑ Record the temperature readings on shipping papers:
    • Pulp or core temperature (i.e., inside of product), and
    • Box or trailer temperature.
  • ❑ Move product from loading docks into storage immediately.
Staged equipment (if managed by motor carrier)
  • ❑ Clean trailer interior regularly.
  • ❑ Keep the box or trailer free of debris and dirt.
  • ❑ Remove residues from previous cargo.
  • ❑ Wash and sanitize:
    • Load-securing devices; and
    • Loading equipment, e.g., hand trucks, forklifts.
  • ❑ Make sure cleaning and sanitizing solutions do not create a contaminant

About the author
Kathy Close - Transportation Editor

Kathy provides regulatory support for a variety of products; her areas of expertise include transportation security, DOT drug and alcohol testing, driver qualification, and the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) enforcement model.

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