Truckers asked to tighten meat-shipping procedures

| 8/11/2003

Companies that ship meat, poultry and eggs should tighten security in places where terrorists would be likely to tamper with food, according to new voluntary guidelines by the U.S. Agriculture Department.

"These guidelines will further enhance the safety and security of meat, poultry and egg products throughout the food distribution chain," said Garry L. McKee, administrator of the department's Food Safety and Inspection Service.

Companies are asked to check for vulnerable spots in the shipping chain where terrorists could poison food with harmful bacteria or chemicals. Companies should provide workers with additional training and increased oversight of trucks, ships and airplanes carrying food, department officials said.

Officials noted that terrorists are most likely to sabotage hamburger, chicken or other meat and poultry products as they are loaded and unloaded from freight trains or trucks. Those are moments when workers should closely monitor the shipments, the department said.

The department also recommended:

Truckers and other workers should be trained to deal with intentional and unintentional contamination of the food they are hauling.

Those who are hauling meat products should routinely check their loads to ensure they haven't been tainted and that the food is kept at the proper temperature.

Processors should make sure the company shipping their product has a security program to protect the food.

Shippers also should check the seals on the doors of boats, planes and trucks carrying meat, poultry and eggs, to ensure that no one has broken in.

The FDA rules are slated to go into effect by December.