Why is it important?

I went to the grocery store today and spotted avocados on display. Avocados are a seasonal fruit – not native to Olathe, KS – yet I can go into the grocery store and find them year-round. Truck drivers and advancing technologies (such as refrigerated trailers) make this possible, enabling produce grown in South America to reach North American markets in tip-top shape and ready for consumption. So how are receivers sure the produce stayed fresh throughout the journey? How do carriers protect themselves from negligent shippers who did not store the produce properly before sending it to market? The answer is pulping.

Types of Thermometers

Pulping means using a pulp thermometer to check the internal temperature of the produce. This is done one of two ways. With old-school pulp thermometers, the temperature gauge pierces the produce to retrieve an internal reading. Digital pulp thermometers are more produce-friendly since they take temperatures externally. You simply hold the thermometer up to the produce and it does its job. However, digital thermometers run the risk of inaccuracy since the surrounding air can influence the reading. When pulping, make sure to verify each pallet of the load.

BOLs and Accuracy

The pulp temperature should match the BOL, or at least be within a reasonable difference. (Sometimes a degree difference of 5 degrees plus or minus is acceptable.) Write the temperature from the pulp thermometer on the BOL and sign and date it. When possible, have the deck manager sign and date it as well. In case of a freight claim, the BOL can be used to verify the produce’s temperature at pickup.

Temperature-controlled carriers have expanded markets and changed the way we eat. However, temperature-sensitive produce adds more responsibility to the shippers, carriers, and receivers in this market. Make sure you are doing your part in protecting your business (and future consumers). Pulp your produce.