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Before embarking on perishable cargo handling, every carrier or transportation company must understand the regulations that this type of service entails. Refrigerated freight requires a set of indispensable features to maintain the integrity of the transported goods, allowing them to arrive in the best conditions possible to their destination. 

Refrigerated transportation or perishable logistics refer to transporting refrigerated products that require temperature-controlled storage. Perishable goods are any product that deteriorates in time because of environmental conditions. (Link to the previous blog).   

What does into perishable cargo handling? 

There are many elements to consider when working with perishable cargo. Apart from choosing a suitable truck with built-in refrigeration and all the required features, other factors come into the picture crucial to the entire process.  

Some of those crucial elements are preparation, packaging, and handling of the goods. It’s essential to consider how the cargo is prepared and packaged since, ultimately, this will allow the products to maintain their integrity. Proper packaging increases the chance of delivering goods in optimal conditions.   

Food and Drug Administration Regulations for perishable cargo handling 

To ensure the integrity of goods, especially those transported for human consumption, since 2018, truck operations have had to comply with specific regulations and conditions from the Food and Drug Administration’s Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food Rule.  

This rule concerns cleaning, inspection, maintenance, loading and unloading of the goods, the operation of the vehicles, and the overall transportation equipment. All the elements involved in the transportation of refrigerated goods need to be checked off to prevent spoiling during the entire process.  

Even though this rule is “flexible,” companies within the industry must comply since this allows them to avoid any issues with the freight and prevent any loss. 

Essential elements to consider when handling refrigerated freight. 

Some of the most crucial elements to consider are: 

  • Periodic reviews of fleets to ensure that they comply with the current regulations. 
  • Inspection for cleanliness before cargo is loaded into the truck. 
  • Records of all the cargo that’s been transported in the trucks. 
  • Demonstrate the trailers have been correctly pre-cooled. 
  • Put in place software that records the temperature during the entire journey. 
  • Plan your trips to avoid any issues with temperature. 

Specific temperature for produce 

Within this type of service, there’s no one-size-fits-all. Depending on the goods your transporting, the temperature will vary. It’s essential to know the recommended temperatures for each specific freight.  

These are some general temperatures to consider when transporting produce: 

  • 32°F – 36°F: greens, berries, apples, cruciferous vegetables, grapes, stone fruits 
  • 38°F – 40°F: avocadoes, cranberries 
  • 40°F – 45°F: potatoes, green beans, sweet potatoes 
  • 45°F – 50°F: watermelon, cucumbers, some citrus, bananas, tomatoes 

Who’s responsible for the refrigerated freight? 

The transportation and logistics industry has various moving parts that work together to ensure freight arrives at its destination. For refrigerated services, all the parties involved must be aligned and share the responsibility of the cargo.   

Even though the shipper will be the primary responsible party, because they’re the initiators of the process, all the other parties involved must ensure the freight arrives at the highest quality possible.  

Carriers must comply with each company’s Food Safety Plan, which includes elements like cleaning and sanitation programs, personal hygiene practices, pest control, waste disposal, and others.  

Drivers are also an essential part of the entire process! That’s why every company should train its drivers on perishable cargo handling. Drivers must be aware of how to handle this sensitive freight and what to do if anything goes wrong during the process. It’s important to maintain documentation of these training sessions.   

What should drivers be trained on? 

Refrigerated freight truck drivers must undergo proper training to avoid any issues along the way. These are some elements that should be part of these training programs: 

  • Temperature management. 
  • Reporting requirements. 
  • Handling difficulties during the transportation process. 

Undergoing these training programs and understanding the importance of handling refrigerated freight will allow drivers to be conscious about what they’re hauling and empower them to be even more responsible with the cargo. 


At LGI, we specialize in refrigerated (reefer) and freight arrangement shipping. With a network of 15,000 plus carriers strategically positioned across the U.S., we quickly access our database of refrigerated freight & reefer carriers to get your frozen or chilled product to its destination on time and within budget.  

Or speak to someone on our team, call 713.957.4812 and get
ready to access a true third-party logistics provider!