Understanding Food Grade Liquid & Dry Bulk Trucking

Food grade liquid & dry bulk trucking carries more risk than other forms of transportation. Here’s what you need to know.

Food products, both liquid and dry, can be transported in bulk. Bulk transport of food-grade materials must adhere to state and federal laws regarding both food safety and bulk transport. When choosing a carrier, it is important to understand the additional risks that come with food grade liquid and dry bulk trucking. Here are a few things to consider.


Food grade trucks, also known as Sanitary Stainless Steel, are used to transport food-grade materials. Standard stainless steel trucks can also be used, but the trailer receives a food-grade washing prior to loading. Some foods require additional measurements. For example, trucks transporting Kosher products must undergo a special wash, as well as a blessing. For bulk transport of liquids, the tanks have a dome on their top where the liquid is added and removed. Liquids are removed using pumps and/or air compressors. Pumps must be cleaned after each use to insure safety and quality. Air compressors are preferred, because they are more convenient and less messy. However, air compressors cannot be used for flammable liquids, so pumps must be used instead. Viscous liquids, such as honey, require both pumps and air compressors.


Because moisture can damage foods, and even make them unsafe to eat, it must be considered at every step of the transport process. Many dry foods that are commonly transported in bulk, such as sugar and grain, are very sensitive to excess moisture. Even if the truck’s moisture control keeps the food dry throughout transport, unloading with damp hands or equipment can damage the product.


Temperature control is imperative to food safety, and this is especially true for liquids. Trucks contain heating systems to keep liquids at a specific temperature throughout transit. Insulated trucks may have steam coils. When the truck is parked, the coils are attached to a steam source. Steam travels through the coils in order to warm the liquid to the proper temperature. Products can also stay warm via the truck’s own radiator- antifreeze can be circulated through special pumps on the truck. While not all trucks contain these pipes, it is one of many options.


When transporting liquid, additional factors must be analyzed. Liquid bulk trailers usually hold around 7,000 gallons of liquid. Liquid is calculated by volume, not weight. However, federal regulations measure by weight, so both are important. The Department of Transportation sets an 80,000 pound limit for gross vehicle weight. For many liquids, a bigger tank is not always better. A container that is too big can cause the liquid to shift and agitate during transit, which is not ideal for some liquids. Milk, for example, will foam when agitated.

All this, and more, must be considered for bulk transport of food. Through our member companies, the ShipNorthAmerica Network provides a broad range of services in specialized freight movement. Visit our blog for more articles, news, and updates on the transportation industry or contact us today.