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Transporting Refrigerated Products at Ambient Temperature

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Posted 18 November 2020 - 08:21 PM



I work for a company that brews cold brew coffee (steeped at room temperature with no additives and no heat treatment), packages it, and delivers it to local customers. All of our product gets refrigerated immediately after packaging, and doesn't leave our brewery until it's below 41F - we check our fridge temp several times a day and check product temps when we load our delivery trucks. However, none of our trucks have refrigeration units, so from the time products leave our fridge to the time they reach the customer, they're not currently being held at refrigeration temperatures. This doesn't seem right to me, but this is the way the company's been doing things without issue for almost a decade, and I've been directed to a section in the FDA food code that seems to suggest it's ok to keep refrigerated foods out of refrigeration for up to 6 hours as long as they stay below 70F. I've had a few of our drivers take product temperatures when dropping off, and they've never been above 50F - we're in a cold climate and all our customers are less than 2 hours away.


It'd obviously be ideal to just buy a refrigerated truck, but can anyone comment on whether what we're doing is ok from a food safety perspective? 



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Posted 18 November 2020 - 08:39 PM

Conduct hazard analysis taking into account all potential hazards related to transportation of your product under ambient temp. If you find no issue involved (no impact on product quality, safety and legality), just write a procedure outlining every detail of your process, including manufacturing, storage and shipping parameters (e.g. temperature) and reference to FDA food code. I don't see any food safety issue in terms of micro hazard as coffee is not a media bacteria would grow in - of course, if you follow your manufacturing, sanitation and other protocols. However, we might have on this forum other experts who have particular experience in coffee brewing industry - let's see what they say.



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Posted 18 November 2020 - 10:09 PM

So I assume your company has done a quality check to see what the impact is on allowing the temperature to go up (regardless of FDA limits.)  And I assume temperature checks are done in route somehow?

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Posted 19 November 2020 - 10:42 AM

I don't see any food safety issue in terms of micro hazard as coffee is not a media bacteria would grow in

This seems to be the conclusion for E. coli and Salmonella from this CFIA study: https://www.inspecti...8/1590175162817

Alas pH means that this is not always the case for C. botulinum, although whether this is a risk is likely to very much depend on the specific packaging format used: https://www.fda.gov/...rs-online-sales

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