Ensuring Safe Food Transport

Safe delivery and service of donated food requires responsible communication among all parties handling the food (donor, transporter and receiving agency), including monitoring and appropriately handling temperature and packaging requirements as well as limiting the time out of temperature controls.  With a basic understanding of food safety and good judgment, food donors, transporters and recipients can ensure that donated food is kept safe for consumption.

Loading Rainbow CDC's refrigerated truck at Coastal Sunbelt--6 pallets for donation!
Loading Rainbow CDC’s refrigerated truck at Coastal Sunbelt–6 pallets for donation!

Transporter Personal Hygiene

  • If sick, do not recover food.
  • Wear, long pants, clean clothes, and closed-toed non-slip shoes.
  • Remove jewelry.
  • Pull long hair up and/or wear a hat/hairnet.
  • Wear a waterproof bandage if you have a cut.
  • Wear single use glove whenever handling food directly.
  • Wash hands and exposed arms up to your elbows with warm water and soap before handling food.
  • Wash hands again if you do any of the following: use the restroom, smoke, touch your hair, face, clothes or body, handle raw meat or eggs, eat or drink or use cleaning chemicals.
  • Do not eat, drink, smoke or chew gum near exposed food.
  • Protect food from contamination from sources such as chemicals, staples, insects, water drippage, dirty equipment, etc.
  • Keep your vehicle clean of excessive dirt, insects, animals, and any other potential contaminants while transporting food. It is a good idea to have a sheet, tarp or carry-all container that you lay in trunk or back seat before transporting any donated food.

Safe Transportation of Donated Food

  • Use safe, nonabsorbent, leak proof pans or reusable containers
  • Never put pans containing food on the ground.
  • Use thermal bags or coolers (with ice packs for cold foods) to maintain hot or cold temperature of food; do not mix hot and cold food in the same carrier.
  • Use a clean transport vehicle; food should be isolated and nowhere near cleaning supplies, other chemicals, dirty clothes, trash, etc.
  • If ever in doubt about whether these procedures were followed, do not accept the food.

Time and Temperature Control of Perishable Foods

      • TCS, commonly referred to as perishable food is food that requires time-temperature control to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and, thus, keep it safe for consumption.
      • Donations consisting of whole produce, canned goods, dry foods and other similar products can be delivered anytime with no requirement for temperature controls or delivery times
      • For potentially hazardous foods including frozen foods, hot or cold prepared foods, and fresh meat, seafood and dairy the following considerations must be made:
          • Check temperature when receiving food using a clean and sanitized thermometer. If food is just barely inside Food Temperature Danger Zone (between 41°F and 135°F, ask a dining services representative to verify that food has not been in Danger Zone for longer than a few minutes).
          • When temperature-controlled transport is available, foods should be held below 41 ̊F or above 135 ̊ while in transport to the venue.
    • Hot food must be received and held at a temperature of 135°F or above. Hot food out of temperature controls for any amount of time under 4 hours must be reheated to 165 ̊F before service. Discard food if it has been below 135˚F for more than 4 hours.
  • Cold food must be received and held at a temperature of 41°F or below.
  • Track the temperature of the food before and after transportation, and the amount of time between locations. Use the CFR Food Donation Tracking Form to document that proper food handling procedures were followed at every stage. Completed forms should remain with the food recipient agency in the event that donated food need to be traced back through the system.

If temperature-controlled transport is not available, the food items should be labeled, “Process Immediately” and must not be out of temperature controls for more than a total of 4 hours (including time during cooling, storage, transport and service). Potentially hazardous food out of temperature controls for more than 4 total hours must be discarded.

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