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Receiving Temperature (When to Refuse a Shipment)

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Posted 05 May 2021 - 08:35 PM

Hi there. We are a cracker manufacturer, looking into GFSI bench-marking in the near future. This forum has been a great resource for us. I have scrolled through the threads with topics on dealing with refrigerated and frozen items, but every plant is unique and some of the suggestions might not be applicable in our plant.


Our finished goods have a very low water activity (two-step baking). We occasionally receive refrigerated (e.g. cheese) and frozen items (e.g. lemon zest) and they are not in bulk, usually a skid or less. For the cheese ingredients, the receiving temp is sometimes above 4C (delivered in reefer truck), while the frozen items are usually above -18C (delivered in a regular truck along with other non-refrigerated ingredients, could be at -5C during summer). During receiving, receiver takes the temp. when the items are still in the trailer, and then the items are immediately transferred to our walk-in cooler or commercial freezer, and they are normally consumed within 3 weeks.


My question is, if the temp of the items are above the "general" standards i.e. -18C and below and 4C and below during delivery, should we still refuse them? I have checked the thermometer in the reefer truck and it has always been ~34F. Is it possible to prescribe a looser receiving temp. range e.g. -18C +/- 10C and 4C +/- 5C? I know that there may be a risk in microbial activity when the items are not delivered at proper temp. but how is this risk assessed when they are stored properly right away and will be consumed within a short period of time? 


Thanks in advance!



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Posted 06 May 2021 - 01:03 AM

We accept refrigerated loads at 38-42.

We pull a sample prior to unloading and temp check plus check the temperature data log (if available) from the refrigeration unit.

Sample is also checked for potential temperature abuse while in transit.

One thing we learned years ago was that independent truckers sometimes will shut down the refrigeration system while in transit to save operational expenses and re-start the unit an hour or so prior to delivery.

Thus if you only use a temp gun it will send back the surface temp of what is transported and not the actual temperature of the item.

If sampling results in a temperature out of our standard the delivery is refused.

Automatic rejection applies to any trailer that is not refrigerated when it is supposed to be.

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Posted 06 May 2021 - 12:20 PM

CFIA no longer prescribes temperatures for receiving (they used to ) so now it's up to you to determine what is safe and what isn't


I know first hand getting LTL refer trucks in Canada is a nightmare and incredibly expensive.......hence the non refrigerated items on the truck bringing up the overall temperature


In order to become GFSI certified, you'll need a set point in your plan, but you could also have something that allows you to make a decision outside of your ideal range. Like a food safety assessment will be conducted and disposition decided from that


HOWEVER this becomes a slippery slope.  Items like cheese can have rapid bacterial growth if too warm (above 4C) and I can only assume that lemon zest from a quality standpoint would deteriorate quite quickly when too warm


Items like cases of frozen cheese take a very long time to drop in temperature (law of thermodynamics) and stacked cases may continue to rise in temp before they cool again.


You're best bet is to have a discussion with your vendor AND/OR the trucking company and explain the requirements. A reputable company will understand and try to make it right 

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