Pennsylvania steps up cold-chain enforcement

06/25/2014 05:26:00 PM
Coral Beach

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Truck inspectionCourtesy Pennsylvania Department of AgricultureAn inspector checks for appropriate temperature during a Code R.E.D. truck check in Pennsylvania. The state's police and agriculture department officials are working together for the second year to step up enforcement for temperature sensitive loads.Truckers hauling refrigerated loads through Pennsylvania continue to be on the radar screen of law enforcement officials and the state agriculture department’s Bureau of Food Safety as Code R.E.D. activities increase this summer.

Lydia Johnson, director of the food safety bureau, said the increasing cost of fuel spurred concern about the cold chain.

“The refer units are usually powered by diesel,” Johnson said. “To save money, some truckers started turning off the units.”

Last year the bureau joined forces with the Pennsylvania State Police for Code R.E.D. (Refrigerated Enforcement Detail). The food safety bureau trained trucking enforcement officers on the cold chain and when to call in food inspectors.

A recent bust found a truck hauling a mixed load of meat and fresh produce with the temperature in the trailer 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.”

Johnson said police issued several citations to the driver of that truck, but the Food Safety Bureau did not pursue any fines.

“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.”

During a Code R.E.D. blitz last year, Pennsylvania officials stopped 396 trucks and found 10 of them had unsafe conditions. Seven of the trucks had unsanitary cargo areas and three were hauling food at unsafe temperatures, according to state police records.



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Doug    
Raleigh NC  |  July, 02, 2014 at 10:46 AM

Coral, This is the first I have heard of Code R.E.D. and its enforcement sweeps of refrigerated haulers. And my company works with a lot of truckers working in and through Pennsylvania. Is this a new program? What perceived problem gave rise to PA's efforts to insert their law enforcement arm into the realm of food shippers, haulers and receivers?

Coral Beach    
The Packer newsroom  |  July, 02, 2014 at 11:08 AM

Doug, As stated in the above story, the program started last year. Officials said the increasing cost of diesel used to power refrigeration units spurred them to begin checking temps of loads. They said they had concerns that drivers would be tempted to cut their costs by shutting down the units. The officials did not express concerns about shippers or receivers, just the haulers.

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