Keep on Truckin’
It is well known, to those who are involved in running a kosher program, that all equipment used in the processing of kosher food must also remain kosher. This means that any kettle, piping, filler, or retort that will be used, must either be dedicated exclusively for kosher, or undergo a thorough cleanout and kosherization before it’s use on a kosher product’s manufacture or distribution. In addition, it is required that storage tanks, even if they are only used for the storage of cold liquids, be dedicated as kosher. Storing kosher product in a non-kosher storage tank or pareve product in a refrigerated dairy tank can compromise the kosher/pareve integrity of the product. It is for this reason that companies that wish to switch the designated status of any equipment, including storage tanks, from non-kosher to kosher or from dairy to pareve, need to arrange these changes in advance with their Rabbinic Coordinator (RC) or Rabbinic Field Representative (RFR). Depending on the nature of the equipment, it might require a boil out, or an extended hot water spray. The same holds true if a company purchases “new” equipment that had been previously used.
However, what often gets overlooked are the tankers that transport product to and from the plant. Tanker trucks are really just another variety of storage tank. Some tanker trucks are heated, some are refrigerated, and some transport ambient product, but no matter which way they are used, the same tankers may not be used indiscriminately back and forth for kosher pareve, non-kosher and dairy. If a company has its own fleet of trucks, then each truck must be dedicated. The kosher product should only be transported with the kosher tankers, and the non-kosher products should only be sent out or received in the non-kosher trucks. If the company contracts with an outside service, these requirements remain the same. One should make sure that the carrier they are using is kosher-certified. The OU certifies the fleets of many trucking companies, as do other kosher agencies. If you are uncertain as to whether a particular transportation company is acceptable, or if you have difficulty locating a certified carrier, please contact your RC or RFR who will be glad to assist you with lists of approved companies in your region.
Often the most confusing aspect of kosher trucking is the documentation process that is necessary to verify the maintained kosher status of the tanker. In addition to record keeping and log books that record all the previous hauls, including back hauls, there is also a requirement that kosher tankers only be washed at approved wash facilities. The concern is that a truck wash can use recycled water from a non-kosher tanker as the initial rinse. If this were to occur, this could compromise the kosher status of the tanker. A “kosher maintenance” wash ticket that is issued by a certified wash facility indicates that the washing performed on this truck did not negatively affect the status of the tanker. However, this wash ticket alone does not prove that the tanker is kosher. Any tanker brought to this truck wash can get a kosher maintenance wash ticket. It simply indicates that the status quo has been preserved. However, if a tanker truck came in non-kosher, it will leave non-kosher. In order to change its status, it would need a kosherization. Some wash facilities are authorized to perform kosherizations, also known as “kosher upgrade washes.” The upgrade wash is usually performed in the presence of an RFR, who can confirm that the tanker was cleaned and heated properly.
Although some of these rules can sound complicated at first, once these systems are put in place, they tend to run smoothly. The key is to have them set up correctly from the start. As with all other aspects of your kosher program, if you have any questions, or need guidance in how to setup a kosher trucking program for your incoming or outgoing products, please contact your RC or RFR.