Thermal Risks are Highest for Small Box Trucks

“It’s a short trip… The cooler will hold the temperature, even without ice… Turning off the refrigeration unit will save fuel…”  These rationalizations for unsafe food transportation practices have all been used by truck drivers, and they all threaten the safety of the foods they transport.

A multi-state study conducted by Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio that stopped and surveyed 615 trucks found that most food safety problems involved ethnic food transportation and small box trucks – the types that often run between smaller warehouses and grocery stores or restaurants. The large semi-tractor trailers, which typically supply major distributors and retailers, had few food safety issues.

The challenge is keeping foods outside the danger zone of 40° to 140°.  Within that zone, foods experience rapid bacterial growth and, after two hours, many foods should not be eaten. Drivers who let truck temperatures remain in that zone generally aren’t malicious, but typically are only vaguely aware of food safety issues and have only minimal food safety training.

In many instances, shippers can eliminate the problem. To ensure that foods reach their destination safely, they must be packed in a way that maintains their optimum temperatures throughout transit. For example, fresh poultry should be stored at 28° to 32°F, while fresh rabbit is best at 32° to 34°F. Bok choy should be stored at 32° F, while Chinese long beans should be kept between 40° and 45°F. To learn more about ways to track safe food storage temperatures, contact us.