Trailer Talk

Keeping Ice Cream Cold’s Especially Important This Month

July is National Ice Cream Month. Act now or act soon to get special deals on this happy food. Of course it comes by truck.

July 17, 2016

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Delightful choices await customers at Cold Stone Creamery in Westerville, Ohio. Photo: Tom Berg
Delightful choices await customers at Cold Stone Creamery in Westerville, Ohio. Photo: Tom Berg

Alert! This is National Ice Cream Month! It has been since 1984, when President Ronald Reagan signed a proclamation making it so. He also declared the third Sunday in July – which just floated by – as National Ice Cream Day. Thus Mr. Reagan accomplished more than spending so much on armaments that the Soviets couldn’t keep up, and their system broke down, ending the Cold War.

Speaking of cold, ice cream is a happy food, but only if it stays properly frozen at all stages of its manufacture, storage and transit. That reminds me of a story related about 25 years ago by a driver for Ralphs Grocery in the Los Angeles Basin. Barry (his real name) said he backed a reefer trailer into a dock at a cold storage warehouse, where he was picking up a load of ice cream.

“I carry a thermometer to stick loads like that,” he said. “Most other drivers don’t, but I do. So before I let the forklift driver start loading my trailer, I stuck the load on a pallet” -- probed between boxes, I think he meant – “and it came up too warm. I stuck some others, and the same thing. So I rejected the load.”

I don’t recall the numbers, but I think ice cream is supposed to leave a warehouse at minus 10 to minus 20 degrees or so. This load was closer to zero, and a trailer’s reefer unit is not designed to pull down temperatures in the deep-freeze range, and Barry wasn’t about to take the heat if a load was turned away by a receiving clerk at a Ralphs store.

At the warehouse, “The guy moaned, but I told him, ‘Now you know and I know what you’re gonna do with this load,’” he said. “’You’re gonna move it to the coldest spot in the freezer, and it’s gonna get harder and in maybe eight hours, you’ll bring it out and ship it. But I can’t take it as it is now.’”

For many years, Ralphs rigs have carried all manner of foodstuffs to the chain's stores throughout southern California. It's now owned by Kroger. Image: Ralphs Grocery Co. 
For many years, Ralphs rigs have carried all manner of foodstuffs to the chain's stores throughout southern California. It's now owned by Kroger. Image: Ralphs Grocery Co.

Thanks to drivers like Barry and workers all along the “cold chain,” there have been very few if any instances of food spoilage, say people in that business. Contamination, yes, and those cases are usually traced to tainted processing equipment or farm workers’ soiled hands. But thanks to vigilance and modern equipment, food safety during transport has a very good record.

It’s likely to stay that way because the federal government has promulgated a long list of new requirements for handling and monitoring food while it’s in transit, and some have already gone into effect. That’s been a hot topic among refrigerated carriers and makers of reefer equipment.

Anyway, when you go to your favorite store for a package of ice cream, or to your favorite shop for an ice cream cone and dish of the delicious stuff, you can be assured that it’s healthy in condition, and never mind the calories.

If you didn’t make that visit on Sunday, don’t fret. Many shops and restaurants are offering free or discounted deals on helpings of ice cream and other sweets throughout the month. I went on-line and found this list. Get yours while they’re… cold.

 

 

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Author Bio

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Tom Berg

Senior Editor

Journalist since 1965, truck writer and editor since 1978. CDL-qualified; conducts road tests on new heavy-, medium- and light-duty tractors and trucks. Specializes in vocational and hybrid vehicles.

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