Trucks hauling temperature sensitive loads through Pennsylvania will see an increase of inspections this summer as the state’s agriculture department’s Bureau of Food Safety partners with law officials to step-up enforcement.
Known as Code R.E.D (Refrigerated Enforcement Detail), the effort started when the bureau noticed more and more truckers compromising the temperature of their perishable cargo to to save on fuel, according to Lydia Johnson, director of the food safety bureau.
“The refer units are usually powered by diesel,” Johnson said. “To save money, some truckers started turning off the units.”
Officials recently stopped a driver hauling a mix of meat and fresh produce. The temperature in the trailer was at 63 degrees Fahrenheit.
“There was chicken blood dripping on fresh produce,” Johnson said. “The entire contents of the truck was disposed of while (our people) watched.”
The driver of the truck was issued several citations by police, but the Food Safety Bureau didn’t hand out any fines, Johnson said.
“We can write a non-traffic citation,” she said, “but our fines are not that significant. We think the expense of having to pay for the load that was disposed of is a more effective fine.”
Last year the Pennsylvania officials pulled over 396 trucks, 10 of which had unsafe food conditions. According to state police records, seven of the trucks had unsanitary cargo areas, and three where hauling food at unsafe temperatures.