Summertime, and the trucking’s steamy. In Indiana, state troopers have partnered with the State Department of Health to stop reefer trucks transporting foods at dangerously high temperatures. The program came about when troopers citing truckers for road violations started noticing that many of the “hot” trucks were moving food loads in hot weather with little or no refrigeration.
Officers have no authority to perform food inspections, and malfunctioning refrigeration units are not citable. Health inspectors alone have no authority to stop trucks. So last summer the Police started notifying health inspectors when they found overheated loads. This summer, officers are using laser temperature gauges to test loads, and when they find temperatures above 41 degrees, they call in the DOH.
They say they have removed and destroyed thousands of pounds of unsafe foods, including raw chicken and eggs. Most vehicles cited have been smaller trucks run by smaller operators, many of them carrying ethnic foods. Improperly refrigerated foods can foster breakouts of listeria, e.coli, and other bacteria that lead to illness and even death.
This Indiana effort is the first of its kind, but the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance has started fact-finding to see if nationwide efforts are warranted.
For more on this story, see Indianapolis TV station WTHR’s investigative report.