‘Middle of food chain matters’ Pennsylvania taking temperatures of trucks hauling food

A few weeks ago, state agriculture inspectors forced a trucker to toss 2,000 pounds of food in the garbage after finding the cargo had not been kept at safe temperatures.

manufactured cheese on pallets in back of truckFederal rules specify meat and dairy products be trucked at less than 40 degrees. The trucker stopped May 28 near New Castle was carrying a cargo — including meat — at 63 degrees, agriculture department spokeswoman Samantha Krepps said.

He already had delivered to seven restaurants in eastern Ohio and was headed to six more in the Sharon and New Castle areas, Krepps said.

Pennsylvania officials notified their Ohio counterparts, who forced the restaurants there to discard the food, said Lydia Johnson, director of the agriculture department’s bureau of food safety.

The incident, regulators fear, reflects a larger problem, as rising fuel prices create an incentive for shippers to cheat on food safety.

For the past year, state police and agriculture inspectors have been stepping up checks of refrigerated trucks.

Trucks handle 80 to 90 percent of food consumed in the United States, but state police Col. Frank Noonan said relatively little attention has been paid to monitoring the safety of food in transit.