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A steady diet of due diligence

BELLEVILLE, Ont. - Ever wonder what's on the end of your fork? More importantly, have you ever wondered how that food got there?As someone who runs a company that hauls nothing but food products, Stan...


A DIRTY JOB: Cleaning the reefer's heat exchanger often will reduce the risk of enroute failure and the resulting food spoilage. (Photo by Matthew Sylvain)
A DIRTY JOB: Cleaning the reefer's heat exchanger often will reduce the risk of enroute failure and the resulting food spoilage. (Photo by Matthew Sylvain)

BELLEVILLE, Ont. – Ever wonder what’s on the end of your fork? More importantly, have you ever wondered how that food got there?

As someone who runs a company that hauls nothing but food products, Stan Morrow thinks about it a lot.

“As a carrier, I sit down at the table and eat this product no different from anybody else,” says Morrow, the president of Belleville, Ont.-based Choice Reefer Systems (CRS).

A driver since the ’70s, Morrow is a keen supporter of the adoption Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP), a system governing the entire food-production chain from seed to supermarket checkout.

There are seven key points to HACCP, according to Health Canada. They range from identifying possible hazards to establishing ways to solve problems before they occur. On top of these, being able to verify HACCP is working, remains the most critical. Right now fleets are basically on their own when it comes to these tasks, although Ottawa has earmarked about $11 million to help industry associations come up with standard recommended procedures that would qualify as HACCP-grade. And in March, representatives from several associations are slated to meet to discuss how HACCP can be applied to trucking.

Meanwhile, Morrow and CRS have already developed a method that mirrors HACCP. Key to doing it right is specialization and consistency, he says.

CRS reefers carry nothing but food, mostly frozen product but about 30 per cent fresh food, adds Morrow.

As the company writes in its package sent out to potential customers, “we do not ship chemicals or hazardous materials. There is no danger of harmful residues to your shipment.”

Morrow says he is “driven crazy” when he sees a diamond hazard placard on the side of a reefer.

At the heart of CRS’ method is carefully monitoring and controlling product temperature. Part of a driver’s pre-trip inspection includes making sure the reefer is operating perfectly.

After each delivery, the trailers, which feature heavy-duty Kemlite plastic walls, are hosed down using high-pressure water heated to 200F. Any holes, poked into the walls by shifting pallets or sloppy forklift drivers, are sealed over with silicon caulking.

During the washing, the floors are given close attention, since the wooden pallets – another one of Morrow’s sticking points – can leave a surprising amount of dirt and debris. The wood waste not only dirties the trailer, but can also wind up choking the reefer’s heat exchanger, thereby making it work harder and possibly raising the product temperature.

The trucks are equipped with probes, so the drivers can verify that the product is at the proper temperature when its picked up. The reefers’ computers can track and archive the temperature. If anyone at the receiving end tries to complain about improper shipping temperatures, CRS can settle the argument by printing out a log.

As for the rest of CRS’ HACCP-oriented spec’ing, its trailers are all 1998s or newer and all sport fiberglass bulkheads, to help keep the air properly moving up the wall in front of the reefer’s heat exchanger.

Finally, all use a cargo door insert, made of nylon and foam, which is dropped into the space behind the load to reduce the area being cooled. This helps keep the temperate steady – even if the barn doors are opened at a loading dock.

Morrow does all he can to eliminate hazards in food transport, however, he still awaits a time when he doesn’t worry about who hauled his dinner. n


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