Maintaining Food Safety During Transit

Food safety is a permanent fixture in the news these days. And food that must be kept refrigerated can be trickier to get from manufacturer to store shelves, simply because the “cold chain” can’t be broken—the food has to be maintained within a set range of temperatures in order to remain safe to eat. Add the public’s desire for clean labels and it gets even trickier, as food manufacturers can no longer rely on chemical additives and preservatives to maintain food safety. High pressure processing (HPP) does a great job of making food safe and extending shelf life, but since there are no chemical preservatives used in the process keeping the food refrigerated is of utmost importance.

It can be easy for a manufacturer to maintain temperature controls in their production facility, and simple for the retailer stocking their refrigerated shelves as well, but what about the journey in between?

Here a few best practices for maintaining food safety and the cold chain during transport:

  • Make sure vehicles are in good working order. Pre-trip inspections, robust maintenance schedules and paying attention to appropriate capacity levels can ensure food is safe from one end of the trip to the other.
  • Make sure your drivers know the appropriate sanitary transportation practices for the cargo space, as well as know how to perform the necessary documentation.
  • Trucks should always have enough fuel, not to just make it from point A to point B but to maintain the refrigeration during loading and unloading.
  • Temperature monitoring tools and temperature checks periodically during the trip are always a good idea.
  • Make sure drivers have a good working knowledge of the limitations of the refrigeration so it isn’t compromised during the trip or the loading/unloading.
  • Put it all in writing. Have a food safety transportation plan that spells out your company policy and training plans and keep it updated. And make sure everyone is familiar with it.

The FDA’s Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) spells out food safety requirements and provides lots of guidance for maintaining food safety and avoiding the food recalls.