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Pennsylvania steps up cold-chain enforcementTruckers hauling refrigerated loads through Pennsylvania continue to be on the radar screen of law enforcement officials and the state agriculture department’s Bureau of Food Safety as Code R.E.D. activities increase this summer.

Lydia Johnson, director of the food safety bureau, said the increasing cost of fuel spurred concern about the cold chain.

“The refer units are usually powered by diesel,” Johnson said. “To save money, some truckers started turning off the units.”

Last year the bureau joined forces with the Pennsylvania State Police for Code R.E.D. (Refrigerated Enforcement Detail). The food safety bureau trained trucking enforcement officers on the cold chain and when to call in food inspectors.

A recent bust found a truck hauling a mixed load of meat and fresh produce with the temperature in the trailer at 63 degrees Fahrenheit.

“There was chicken blood dripping on fresh produce,” Johnson said. “The entire contents of the truck was disposed of while (our people) watched.”

Johnson said police issued several citations to the driver of that truck, but the Food Safety Bureau did not pursue any fines.

“We can write a non-traffic citation,” she said, “but our fines are not that significant. We think the expense of having to pay for the load that was disposed of is a more effective fine.”

During a Code R.E.D. blitz last year, Pennsylvania officials stopped 396 trucks and found 10 of them had unsafe conditions. Seven of the trucks had unsanitary cargo areas and three were hauling food at unsafe temperatures, according to state police records.