Ensuring Food Safety: How Reliable Transport Plays a Key Role
In the world of food safety, there are no cutting corners. Every stage of food production—from farm to table—must be held to the highest standards of cleanliness to ensure the product is safe and healthful. As the link that connects food production to distribution and sale, transport plays a big role in ensuring that those high standards are consistently met.
Did you know that milk is evaluated and tested by the truck driver several times before it even gets loaded into a truck tank? Because reliable transport is so important in ensuring food safety, truck drivers who haul certain food products—including milk—have additional duties and responsibilities, beyond those of other drivers, to keep food products safe from contamination. They must also complete additional training and receive proper certification to ensure that they stay up-to-date on food safety regulations.
Why are all of these additional precautions and regulations necessary? Here’s a quick overview of why reliable transport is crucial to overall food safety:
Milk Must Stay Cool and Dark
As a highly perishable foodstuff, milk must be kept cool at all times. This is important not only for extending its shelf life (the cooler it is kept, the longer milk will last, and the safer it is ), but also for preventing the growth of harmful bacteria. Warmer temperatures aren’t milk’s only vulnerability: some of milk’s key nutritional ingredients, including Vitamin D and riboflavin, degrade when exposed to light, so milk should optimally be kept in the dark, as well. Properly maintained refrigerated tank trucks satisfy both of these steps; they maintain the right temperatures to keep milk safe and fresh (keeping it cold without freezing it), and they block light to preserve its nutritional integrity. To keep those tanks at peak performance, milk haulers perform regular checks of their tanks and equipment, to make sure they’re always in top shape, especially the tank doors and seals.
Maintaining Hygiene and Safety Are Top Priorities
If cleanliness is next to godliness, then milk haulers are in great company! In their line of work, keeping everything spic and span isn’t just a virtue, it’s a necessity. The truck, tank, hose, the sampling equipment, and, of course, the milk hauler him or herself must be clean and sanitary at all times. To prevent contamination, vehicles are thoroughly cleaned inside and out at least once each day of use. The proper schedule and protocol for all cleaning is clearly outlined by state requirements that all drivers must know and conform to. This is essential not only to prevent cross-contamination, but also to minimize the chances of accelerated food spoilage.
Milk Haulers Know What To Look (And Smell) For
To prevent spoiling a whole tank of milk with one pickup, milk haulers are trained to evaluate milk before loading it into their truck tank. They have a long list of sights and smells that can help them determine the quality of the milk in any farm’s collection tank. This keen sense of what to look for enables them to prevent the potential spread of disease, since they can reject poor quality milk at the farm and thus preserve the integrity of the rest of the load.
Food Safety Involves Teamwork
Farmers work extremely hard to provide milk that is clean and healthy, keeping their equipment and milking and storage areas as clean as possible. Milk haulers and processors uphold and support that commitment to hygiene by collecting, testing, processing and packaging the milk collected according to stringent criteria of cleanliness and quality. At the end of the day it’s a true team effort to get fresh, healthful milk from the farm to the table, and drivers play a key role in making that possible.
Great milk depends on hard, diligent work from everyone involved along the way. Drivers respect and honor that interdependence by maintaining high standards in every aspect of their work. In doing so, they safeguard the hard work and investment of the farmers—and cows!—who produced the milk, and also protect the many families who consume it.