Transporting perishable cargo requires extra care and consideration. Most of these products include: produce, frozen food, pharmaceuticals, meat, plants, etc. Therefore, to comply with FDA guidelines you’ll need a well-equipped reefer truck. A refrigerated truck can keep goods at their required temperature for the duration of the trip. Proper procedures and guidelines need to be followed to a tee.
Therefore, we have compiled some tips in this article for your guidance. These reefer truck safety tips will help you ensure that your perishable items are delivered to their designated location. Let’s begin.
6 Reefer Truck Safety Tips
The following are some tips to keep in mind during your next shipment of perishable goods.
Monitor the Truck’s Temperature
It’s best to create a plan for delivering the perishable goods. However, the carrier, loader, and receiver should all agree to this plan. This includes keeping the product at a safe temperature during the whole process. In addition, the temperature ranges should be specified rather than labeling everything as chilled or frozen. Failing to do so can cause the product to go bad.
Some reefers have several temperature zones inside which allows you to transport different items at the same time. Therefore, drivers need to make sure their equipment is working correctly and they’re able to monitor the temperature throughout the trip.
Here’s a list of the typical temperature range for specific products:
- 32-36 degrees Fahrenheit: grapes, apples, berries, greens
- 38-40 degrees Fahrenheit: cranberries and avocados
- 40-45 degrees Fahrenheit: sweet potatoes, potatoes, and green beans
- 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit: tomatoes, bananas, citrus, watermelon, and cucumbers
Sanitize the Trailer
It’s essential to ensure a clean and tidy reefer if you wish to transport perishable items. You should sanitize the outside and inside of the truck with USDA-approved detergent. Using a pressure washer is a great way to remove any liquid from meats or other items. Also, you’ll need to follow your written procedure from the FDA to prevent any cross-contamination.
Schedule Regular Maintenance
Since reefer trucks have the responsibility of delivering food all over the country, they need to be well-maintained. It’s crucial to conduct regular maintenance on your truck so it complies with local, state, and federal guidelines. Also, ensure your fleet is conducting inspections before and after each delivery.
During your routine inspections you should check the:
- Air chute and drains clogs
- Tire pressure
- Exterior/interior of the trailer
- Refrigeration unit
Follow Loading Guidelines
Carriers need to ensure efficient loading and unloading processes so the goods remain safe and at their proper temperatures.
In addition, keep an eye on the refrigerator’s height and weight limits before loading. Overfilling the truck can impede the airflow in the trailer and cause the goods to spoil.
Keep Your Records
You should keep your maintenance records on hand at all times. These records should contain written procedures, agreements, and training guidelines set by the FDA. In addition, records can help you stay up to date on regular trailer maintenance.
Lastly, it’s beneficial to keep track of your drivers’ certifications and history so you’re aware of any traffic violations. If someone has a record they may be more inclined to skip procedures that could put the perishable items at risk.
Keep Your Tank Full
It’s important to keep your fuel replenished because it runs the vehicles and the refrigeration units in the trailer. Some loading docks require reefers to have at least 3/4 of a tank before they load.
Also, running on low fuel can cause a residue to build up on your fuel tank. This can lead to several mechanical problems.
Refrigerated goods need special coverage since they pose a higher risk than other types of cargo. To protect your business, you need reefer breakdown coverage.