Truck Transport:

Little Is Known About Hauling Garbage and Food in the Same Vehicles

RCED-90-161: Published: Jun 28, 1990. Publicly Released: Jul 9, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined the practice of transporting municipal solid waste in multipurpose trucks that may also be used to carry consumer goods, such as food.

GAO found that: (1) over the past 2 years, municipalities in the Northeast have dramatically increased the amount of waste trucked to out-of-state landfills; (2) New Jersey reported that at least 32 out-of-state landfills have accepted truckloads of its garbage; (3) multipurpose trucks transport about 85 percent of all meat and fresh fruits and vegetables consumed in the United States; (4) as the number and capacity of local landfills decrease, the demand for long-distance transport of garbage increases, and with it the likelihood of cross-hauling food and garbage; (5) federal health and food officials said they have no knowledge of any documented contamination having occurred in the United States from transporting food in trucks that previously carried garbage; (6) federal health and food officials said that because they have found no instances of transport-related contaminants, their inspectors do not test trucks for contaminants; and (7) inspectors focus where experience has shown that food contamination might likely occur, such as food preparation, and would test a truck only if contamination were linked to it.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Sanitary Food Transportation Act of 1990 requires the Department of Transportation (DOT) to develop regulations concerning recordkeeping for commodities carried in trucks that carry food. On May 21, 1993, DOT issued a notice of proposed rulemaking to solicit comments on its proposed regulations. DOT is analyzing the comments received. DOT has not set a date for completing the final regulations.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should take the steps needed, including seeking authorizing legislation if necessary, to develop regulations requiring that truckers maintain specific records of commodities carried in trucks that carry food. This recordkeeping could help food shippers identify trucks that may need more thorough inspections and facilitate any future research that Congress may require into the extent and nature of health risks.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Sanitary Food Transportation Act of 1990 requires DOT to develop regulations for truck cleaning in consultation with HHS, EPA, and USDA. On May 21, 1993, DOT issued a notice of proposed rulemaking to solicit comments on its proposed regulations. DOT is analyzing the comments received. DOT has not set a date for completing the final regulations. Action on pending legislation to transfer the implementation of the Sanitary Food Transportation Act of 1990 from DOT to FDA is expected in the fall of 1995.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Agriculture and Health and Human and Services (HHS), in consultation with the Secretary of Transportation and the Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), should develop standards and guidelines for truck cleaning. Those measures would help minimize the potential risk of food contamination.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Sanitary Food Transportation Act of 1990 requires DOT to develop regulations for truck cleaning in consultation with HHS, EPA, and USDA. On May 21, 1993, DOT issued a notice of proposed rulemaking to solicit comments on its proposed regulations. DOT is analyzing the comments received. DOT has not set a date for completing the final regulations. Action on pending legislation to transfer the implementation of the Sanitary Food Transportation Act of 1990 from DOT to FDA is expected in the fall of 1995.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Agriculture and Health and Human and Services (HHS), in consultation with the Secretary of Transportation and the Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), should develop standards and guidelines for truck cleaning. Those measures would help minimize the potential risk of food contamination.

    Agency Affected: Department of Health and Human Services

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Sanitary Food Transportation Act of 1990 requires DOT to develop regulations for truck cleaning in consultation with HHS, EPA, and the Department of Agriculture (USDA). On May 21, 1993, DOT issued a notice of proposed rulemaking to solicit comments on its proposed regulations. DOT is analyzing the comments received. DOT has not set a date for completing the final regulations. Action on pending legislation to transfer the implementation of the Sanitary Food Transportation Act of 1990 from DOT to FDA is expected in fall 1995.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Agriculture and Health and Human and Services (HHS), in consultation with the Secretary of Transportation and the Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), should develop standards and guidelines for truck cleaning. Those measures would help minimize the potential risk of food contamination.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Sanitary Food Transportation Act of 1990 requires DOT to develop regulations for truck cleaning in consultation with HHS, EPA, and USDA. On May 21, 1993, DOT issued a notice of proposed rulemaking to solicit comments on its proposed regulations. DOT is analyzing the comments received. DOT has not set a date for completing the final regulations. Action on pending legislation to transfer the implementation of the Sanitary Food Transportation Act of 1990 from DOT to FDA is expected in the fall of 1995.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Agriculture and Health and Human and Services (HHS), in consultation with the Secretary of Transportation and the Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), should develop standards and guidelines for truck cleaning. Those measures would help minimize the potential risk of food contamination.

    Agency Affected: Environmental Protection Agency

 

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