Patriot Freight Group

How to Protect Your Restaurant Food Supply During Shipment

The vast majority of food shipments under 500 miles are handled by trucks, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Rail is the second most common form of food transportation followed by planes. For hundreds of thousands of restaurants across the country, trucking represents an indispensable asset.

Does your restaurant or food delivery service rely on trucking logistics to maintain your restaurant’s food supply? If so, you should know key safety tips to protect those heavy haul deliveries. Read on to learn important tips for ensuring that your transportation provider is using the right packaging to move food and dairy products.

Have Policies and Procedures for Receiving Food Shipments

Every restaurant should have a procedure for intaking food shipments. This is also known as the flow of food. Transporters must keep food safe at every step of this process. 

Whether you receive food from trucks, rail, or planes, your restaurant should have someone in charge of receiving it. Ideally, this would be a chef or manager. They are more likely to understand how food should smell, look, and taste upon arrival. 

The person in charge of your food shipments should also be an expert in food quality and have a food handlers certificate. Once you have a qualified food receiver, draft a checklist of things to look for.

Having an accurate list of all food orders allows them to ensure that no items are missing and that all food products are up to standard. Ideally, restaurant staff can dispute anything right after drop-off. 

The checklist can include the following topics:

  • Are the truck drivers and vehicles clean and hygienic?
  • Are there any pests in the truck?
  • Does the driver understand proper storage procedures?
  • Are foods kept at the correct temperatures?

With so many transportation companies out there, staying on top of quality control can help you choose the right shipping company. Patriot Freight Group, for example, is a leading broker/carrier of food transportation solutions. 

Watch Transportation Temperatures

One of the most important factors to consider when shipping food products is temperature. Trucks that allow food to reach warm temperatures risk allowing food products to over-ripen or even spoil. 

The danger zone for foodborne pathogens is 41°F to 140°F. Any food product kept in this temperature range could potentially allow bacteria to multiply. Allowing dairy and meat products to stay within this temperature range places guests at risk of developing illnesses from foodborne pathogens.

Transporters should keep hot goods at 140°F or above. They should keep refrigerated goods at 40°F or below and ice cream and similar frozen goods between 7°F to 10°F at delivery.

Some aspects of maintaining food safety may seem like common sense. Don’t guess at food temperatures. Have a thermometer handy to double-check what the delivery truck measures. 

Maintain Accurate Records

Before, during, and after the food is shipped, your team should keep accurate records. This includes requiring any shipping company you hire to maintain accurate records. 

Having a record of temperatures maintained throughout transportation helps your team know if the food potentially spoiled or was kept at ideal temperatures throughout the trip. If the food arrives with inadequate records or records that show the proper temperatures were not maintained, you can dispute or outright reject the cargo. 

You can require that transport companies keep temperature recorders, for example. Your receiving crew can keep records that show whether the truckers maintained food properly throughout shipment.

Increasingly, companies are paying closer attention to how they handle the certificate of analysis. Some companies do not provide a COA with each shipment, but more and more are these days.

Track Allergens

Your customer’s safety should be a top priority. Tracking which allergens enter your restaurant ensures that you do not accidentally fail to notify patrons of this important information. 

Once unmarked containers enter your restaurant, it may be too late to identify which allergens are within those products. This is why having a policy in place for your receiving docks is vital. 

Most food processors keep a master list of allergens. They should update that list regularly. Shipping companies should provide this list to the receiving group as a matter of policy. 

On the restaurant’s end, staff should mark products that contain allergens. Ideally, they will do this with bright tags with distinctive colors that would not be overlooked.

Even if the shipping company tags allergens, restaurant crews should have their own tagging system in place. The restaurant flags notify handlers to store the products based on the allergen control program.

Tips for Safely Shipping Meat Products

Time, temperature, and packaging are three critical elements that can keep meat products fresh and healthy. Here are some useful tips for keeping meat from spoiling.


Of the three factors, this is the most important one. Simply put: Meat is not considered safe to consume if it has not been kept at a temperature below 40ºF.

When sausage, pork, and other proteins are not kept below 40ºF, dangerous bacteria can begin to grow. The meat is then considered contaminated and unsafe to eat. 

While spoiled lettuce may taste bad, spoiled meat can be downright dangerous. The pathogen that grows on uncooked meat can cause serious illness for anyone who consumes it.

This is why you should only work with shipping companies that take meat transportation seriously. Once the products arrive at your restaurant, have strict policies in place to ensure the meat does not experience temperatures above 40ºF until it is ready to be cooked. 


Time is another important element for shipping meat products by truck. After all, some packages require days or weeks to reach their final destination. 

If your restaurant requires regular shipments from a trucking company, you should consider how long those meat products take to reach their destination. Ideally, meat products would only be on the road for a day or two. 

Longer trips may require extra refrigeration and specific packaging. This can raise your overall shipping costs.


As you can imagine, there are many packaging options for food delivery. Food is a unique product and requires special packaging to stay fresh and safe. 

While cardboard and paper may be adequate for other supplies, you wouldn’t want to ship food with that, for example. Shipping companies typically invest in special packaging options that are specifically designed for food. 

Packaging for food is designed not to be susceptible to outside temperatures. The outside temperature should largely not affect foods that are properly packaged. Food packaging is also designed to keep food at ideal temperatures longer than the estimated delivery time.

The gold standard for packaging certain foods is tamper-resistant packaging. On the shipping side, the trucking companies can verify the packaging is in place. Taking photos is one useful way to document proper sealing. 

If a customer complains that a product was not properly packaged, the photos can be used to show the state of the packaging prior to shipping. This adds a level of transparency that keeps both shipping companies and restaurants honest about who is at fault. 

Automate Safety Steps

Increasingly, technology is allowing certain forms of food inspection to occur automatically. Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, for example, can collect data on temperature, humidity, and duration of transportation. Those sensors can be combined with devices that allow automatic adjustments in temperature. 

Artificial intelligence can also aid in inspecting food, either visually or by sensing certain compounds in the air that show spoilage. 

The Smell Test

When checking the quality of products following delivery, your sense of taste, touch, sight, and smell are your most valuable assets. Create a checklist of things to look for once food shipments arrive. 

For example, is there a strange or abnormal color to meat or product? Are there any signs of mold? Even things like large ice crystals on frozen foods could be a sign of poor packaging practices that could lead to freezer burn. 

And it’s not just the food that needs to be examined. Look for dented, damaged, or broken packaging.

That could be a sign that the food products within were not properly insulated from outside temperatures. Broken seals on containers are another potential red flag.

Signs of pests should also be looked for. It isn’t always as simple as spotting signs of bugs or rodents. Sometimes, you have to look for their droppings or other signs. 

Did the shipping company allow certain frozen foods to thaw? That would be grounds for rejecting the entire shipment. You should have someone check dry goods for signs of moisture.

Even when things look on the up-and-up, check the expiration dates on all packages. Don’t stop by just examining the top layer of packages. Be sure to check the entire shipment to make sure everything is in good shape. 

Take note of certain smells, such as odors that could be considered musty or rotten. Poultry, meat, and fish should not have overly pungent odors.

Then, feel products. Dry goods like flour should not be damp. Check foods that should be firm, like produce, to ensure they have not wilted. Then taste samples of foods to make sure that they are still fresh.

Ensure Food Products Are Traceable

Often overlooked are steps taken to ensure that your restaurant knows where food comes from. Knowing where your food products come from allows restaurant staff to know when there is a food recall. Traceability allows for better logistics and food safety management.

It’s easy to lose track of foods once they arrive. Producers and distributors are still responsible for recalls, even after those products have been placed in restaurant kitchens. QR codes are one way to maintain the visibility of products once they arrive.

Any step to improve farm-to-fork transparency can improve workplace efficiency and public health. Consumers are increasingly curious about where their products come from. Having that information readily available makes your business more transparent in the eyes of the consumer. 

Which Transportation Company Is Right for Me?

While some products are shipped by rail or even plane, trucking offers a cost-effective means of moving food products safely and affordably across the country. If your restaurant sells oysters from Alaska to customers in Texas, then your best option would be to charter planes. Massive shipments of grain may be best moved by train.

For most restaurants, though, trucking offers the ideal flexibility and price points to safely deliver all sorts of food products. The next question is which trucking company should you trust?

Since 2014, Patriot Freight Group has been the preferred trucking service for many restaurants. Our company also offers career opportunities to qualified truckers.

If you are looking for the right company for your food service needs, do some research by reading reviews. We feel confident that when safety, quality, and price are considered, you’ll find Patriot Freight Company to be your ideal choice. 

Learn More Tips for Managing Your Restaurant’s Food Supply

Finding the right restaurant food supply trucking company ensures that your food products arrive on time. For any restaurant, the quality of its food should be a top priority. Working with a reputable trucking company can give you peace of mind and assurance that your meat and dairy products will never arrive spoiled.

Ready to take the next step by partnering with Patriot Freight Group? We strive to exceed our customers’ expectations. Contact our office today to learn how you can work with the preferred logistics provider of many restaurants.