One of the most important functions to perform when loading a refrigerated trailer is to take not only the pulp temperature, but an adequate number of pulp temperatures. But how many is enough?
Rich Macleod of TransFresh Corp. in Salinas, CA states, “I would get two temperature readings per pallet from each lot going into the trailer. If you had a lot of peaches, nectarines and plums, you would want at least two pulp temperatures from each of those stone fruits – so about six pulp temperatures.”
TransFresh is well known in the produce industry and the refrigerated trucking industry for its Techtrol atmosphere process where carbon dioxide (CO2) is pumped into a plastic bag that covers and surrounds a pallet of strawberries and some other perishable fruits. Studies have shown Techtrol’s CO2 atmosphere extends the shelf life of some fruits.
It is critical to know whether produce items have been pre-cooled at shipping point and what the temperature of the product is when loaded. It could mean a big difference upon arrival at destination, especially if there is an issue with the quality and condition of the product.
This is of course in a perfect world, which often is non existant at shipping point. Macleod is well attuned to the “politics” and what goes on at loading docks. Too often, there may be resistance at the dock when a trucker wants to take his own pulp temperatures.
“In the strawberry trade we run into this (at the loading dock) because they don’t want the trucker punching holes in the techtrol bag. (At least) that is the excuse. We very carefully train our customers to let the drivers do that and just take a piece of tape and cover it (the hole in the bag) back up again. There are special stickers so you can cover the hole,” Macleod says.
He is aware the driver must contend with the policies of management at shipping point. The driver might even have to deal with a forklift driver, who on that particular day just doesn’t want to take the time to allow for the pulp reading. In reality, Macleod said it usually comes down to the “outlook” of the people where the loading is taking place.
“As important as it (taking pulp temperatures), I don’t think that is a real comfortable thing for drivers to do. What I see is maybe 10 to 15 percent of the loads get pulped by the driver,” Macleod observes. “The key is the driver should be aware of what the pulp temperature is. Some shippers, or people on the dock will take the pulp temperature for them (driver).”
From the shipper’s point of view and from a safety aspect, Macleod notes, when a shipper and the trucker take the pulp temperature together, that is okay. If the shipper is concerned about food safety issues, whose temperature probe do you want used?
(This is the second in a five-part series featuring an interview with Rich Macleod, vice president, pallet division North America for TransFresh Corp., Salinas, CA. He has been with the company since 1976, and has a masters degree in post harvest science from the University of California, Davis.)