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Change your perspective? See your Washout for What it Really Is

Photo Credit: Public Domain

My husband wasn’t gone for more than ten minutes this morning before I started seeing things differently. It is so weird how this happens, but it is so predictable that I should have been more prepared to start working.

Mark is an IT guy, and a few times a year his work takes him away for a week or so. Every time he leaves for more than one or two days, I notice things around the house that need attention. A stack of mail that has been sitting on a counter, a small painting chore, and wow, did those windows really look like that yesterday?

It’s like his absence changes my perspective. Immediately. And things just look so different that I actually have to do something about it.

After making a lot of phone calls to let carriers know about Healthy Trailer LLC, I have come to the realization that perhaps a change of perspective might be in order to help folks see the value of an effective trailer washout.

These phone calls have been interesting several reasons, and depending on the position of the person on the phone, we get different reactions about our service.

If it is Dispatch or Sales, then the call ends fast. “No thanks.” or “We are already set up.” Last week we got a new one. “You are wasting your time.”

Maintenance and Safety, a few of these people are really starting to understand that just maybe the typical washout isn’t quite getting their trailers clean. And some specifically mention that they would like to be chemical free.

Operations people give me their emails and ask for more information. We usually can tell when a company has had some food safety training, meaning more than the FDA’s one hour training module, because these particular individuals ask about our hours and if they can have an account with us.

Yesterday we had a really good question. “What’s the difference?” While I am not sure that he was actually curious or just in the mood to make us earn our time on the phone with him, regardless, it was a good question. It gave us the chance to explain the differences between a Healthy Trailer LLC cleaning service and a typical washout.

It’s almost like we need to help people change their perspective on this practice, for at least two reasons. One, with the Sanitary Transportation Rule, those of us involved in transporting food don’t have a choice. It’s the law.

But the other reason is that people have been paying for washouts for a long time without knowing if their trailers are really clean. Without some standard, or a basis of comparison, many people are probably not getting what they paid for.

Up until recently, the test for clean was primarily visual or based on prior cargo. Pick up the debris, sweep the grooves and in some cases pull out the coffee grounds to get rid of the smell, and...done!

But today, because of the rule and also because there is an expectation or assumption on the part of people who need the transportation, there are other factors that affect or determine cleanliness.

Before we started on the first Healthy Trailer LLC machine, we observed washout procedures, we tested trailer surfaces, and we asked carriers to tell us their preferences and opinions about the washouts they were getting on their trailers. We learned a lot.

And then we went to work. Healthy Trailer LLC was built to resolve these issues. Our process improves the washout process and in the end, gives the carrier a validated clean to comply with the Sanitary Transportation Rule.

As already mentioned, some carriers understand what we are trying to do right away. Almost always during a conversation with an employee, usually the Director of Operations or Maintenance, the person will refer to their company as ‘progressive and innovative.’

And they are right. Even with the rule now in effect and enforceable, and even with the continual news and public concern around foodborne illness outbreaks, companies in both the transportation and produce industries remain unaware or resistant to making changes regarding the cleanliness of trailers.

Here at Healthy Trailer LLC, after listening to many of these conversations, we decided that it might be helpful to talk about washout differences.

Today we start a ten part series on Perspective: How to see the difference between a washout and a quality clean and sanitize.

Each part will explain a difference, a distinguishing feature of Healthy Trailer LLC and a typical washout. And then you can decide what is best for your company.

We will talk about wash cycles, protocols and procedures, testing (validation and verification,) documentation, the value of air and water removal, and people. People doing the washouts and the people managing the outcomes, namely the drivers.

Safe food transportation encourages us to take a new look at what we have considered adequate for years, and maybe a new attitude about being willing to change if what we see leads us to believe that their is a new ‘best’ practice we should adopt.

Next up, wash cycles. What is or may be dirtier than we think, where we need to focus our cleaning efforts, and how automation may lead to a more consistent, thorough washout.

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