Aug 1, 2008 12:00 PM
Question: How important is training in personal hygiene, vehicle inspection measures, and transportation procedures to ensure the safety of food products?
Answer: Certainly, it is important to maintain the highest quality possible of food and ingredients. Once again, a lot of this will be driven by the buyers of their products.
In one case, a buyer demanded that there be a monitor in the restroom to make sure the workers washed their hands before returning to work.
Whatever industry requirements come into play, it will mean a higher cost to the consumer for those products.
Question: Shouldn't companies have security plans in place to ensure the integrity of the products throughout the supply chain, along with training for those responsible for transportation and delivery?
Answer: The purpose of the Bioterrorism Act is just that. There is not a shipper, grower, or manufacturer that wants contaminated product in the food supply.
Westland/Hallmark of Chino, California, had the largest recall in the nation's history on February 17, 2008, and in the end totaled 143 million pounds of beef.
The Grocery Manufacturers of America said it was unprecedented, and included soups, sauces, burritos, and bouillon cubes. The loss will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
The mad cow disease precipitated more awareness of beef products in the US. Food safety has become a high priority for manufacturers.
This decimation of a company provides a good example of what can happen if you are not watching and monitoring what is going out the door.
Question: Are there industry requirements or voluntary guidelines for cleaning and sanitizing transportation vehicles?
Answer: Some of our shippers go through the trailers with a black light before loading them, looking for anything that might compromise their product.
In the produce industry, it is standard procedure for trailers to be washed out and not have any kind of unusual odor to it.
One of the laws is you cannot haul food product in a vehicle if you have hauled garbage in it before.
Question: I've heard that a good rule-of-thumb when transporting a load of food is to periodically (at least every four hours) check the integrity of the load, along with monitoring the temperature and function of the refrigeration unit. Is there some type of industry best practice for this?
Answer: It is certainly common to “pulp” the temperature of a produce load while in transit. This is mainly to insure that the unit is getting a good temperature to the back of the trailer.
Sometimes in transit, a chute can fall or become unbuttoned at the front of the unit.
Most drivers do check the temperature occasionally through the rear vent door on the trailer door. However, with the newer trailers and consistency of refrigeration, some doors don't even have these anymore.
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