On July 1, a new state law went into effect that gave the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division of the Indiana State Police the authority to stop suspected "hot" trucks, look inside, ticket the driver and call in health officials.
Members of the state police, who just received additional training, are catching a good percentage of the violators in the Lafayette, Ind., area.
Most of the violators seem to be coming from Chicago bound for Indiana. Police officials say they typically are headed to Chinese or Mexican and Hispanic restaurants.
A sampling of the recent incidents:
July 20: A 2008 UD refrigerated truck was stopped on I-65 southbound near the 171 mile marker for possible motor carrier violations. The truck was owned by Hispamex Products Inc. of Cicero, Ill. Troopers found the refrigerated unit had been shut off to help the truck run better. Approximately 2,000 pounds of meat, kid's drinks, cheese and yogurt were destroyed. The load was headed to Crawfordsville and Indianapolis stores and restaurants.
July 24: State police stopped a 2006 Freightliner pulling a Great Dane refrigerated trailer owned by Expressway Leasing LLC of Chicago, for a federal motor carrier inspection on State Road 28 in Clinton County. The officer could smell a putrefied odor coming from the back of the trailer. The driver said there had been problems with the refrigeration unit on the trailer but it had been fixed. Approximately 2,000 pounds of food products were destroyed. The truck had made deliveries in Ohio and Frankfort, Ind., and was heading to Lafayette area restaurants.
July 18: A 2008 Sterling straight truck with an enclosed refrigerated box container was stopped on I-65 southbound near the 173 mile marker for a traffic violation and was found to have the refrigerator unit not in working order. When they opened the container they found raw meat and vegetables above the allowable temperatures and also cross contamination with the spoiled foods. More than 1,500 pounds of food were destroyed.
July 26: A 1999 conventional Freightliner pulling a 1998 Great Dane refrigerated trailer owned by Dearborn Wholesale Grocers LP out of Chicago was pulled over for a routine truck inspection. A trooper noticed the refrigerated unit was not working properly and after checking inside the trailer.
Another trooper stopped a white 2002 International straight truck with a boxed refrigerated unit owned by Covemex Corp. out of Chicago for a routine inspection. The refrigerated unit was not on, so the trooper checked the cargo and found the load was found to be above the temperature required by law.
Both vehicles were taken to a large parking lot. The County Health Department was called to assist and approximately 500 pounds of dairy products and meats were destroyed from each truck.
Some of the repeat offenders have simply popped up under new names, say police.
This summer's excessive heat is making the problem worse. Tons of spoiled food have been destroyed.