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Posted: 5:30 p.m. Monday, July 22, 2013

Indiana State Police looking for 'hot food' trucks

By John Bedell

WHIO-TV

Everyday, thousands of food trucks travel through Indiana, heading to grocery stores and restaurants here in the Miami Valley.

On Interstate 70 in Wayne County, Indiana State Trooper Jeremy Woods is stopping some of those trucks who may not be keeping food at a safe temperature.

"Especially if it's a seafood product, you'll smell the violation before you actually see it," said Trooper Woods.

He is watching for big rigs hauling food in compartments above 41 degrees. Any warmer than that, and the food is a risk for bacteria growth. If the truck isn't stopped, the bad food can end up on your table and make you sick.

"If you have food that's out of temperature, that's trouble because bacteria can rapidly multiply causing food spoilage as well as potential food-borne illness." said Alan Pierce, of Public Health, Dayton and Montgomery County.

While on patrol with Trooper Woods, he stopped one truck headed to Darke and Montgomery Counties. The food inside the truck was kept at the right temperature but during the roadside inspection, Woods discovered another problem.

"Rotting chicken was laying on the pallet. And there was rotting broccoli, mushrooms and green peppers that were on the floor of the trailer," Wood said.

This loading issue sets up the potential for cross-contamination. The truck had eight deliveries to restaurants in Greenville, Miamisburg, Centerville and Dayton. The violation was not serious enough to call the health department, but a new law in Indiana gives Woods the power to fine companies for infractions.

Woods said, "Once you hit the company in the pocketbook, typically that's a pretty good tool to get them to change their business practices."

The work that Trooper Woods is doing is critical to local restaurants.

"The cold chain doesn't need to be broken at any one moment," said Margot Blondet, owner of Salar Restaurant and Lounge. She said the proper temperature of food
means everything to having a successful business.

"It is as important to you as to breathe," said Blondet.

Trooper Woods says protecting food is now a big part of his job.

"If I can prevent someone from becoming ill from consuming that food ... it makes me feel like I'm doing my job," said Woods.

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