Cooling Tips

The Ultimate Guide to Reefer Trailer Temperature Control

Transporting perishable foodstuffs is indeed one of the most important business activities. Whether you’re hauling food products, plants, meat or frozen goods, proper refrigeration is essential to remain FDA compliant and meet the needs of businesses and consumers. A necessary aspect of transporting perishable foodstuffs is to ensure that refrigeration temperatures meet the standards applicable to the cargo being transported. Also known as refrigerated trailers, these units are designed to maintain the goods at a specified temperature throughout the journey. It is important to note, however, that they are not necessarily intended to cool the cargo.

It is essential to maintain lower temperatures as it can often be 30 degrees warmer inside a trailer than outside. Moving perishable goods without adequate cooling capacity can result in loss of product and revenue. At the front of the refrigerated trailer is a diesel-powered refrigeration unit that can be adjusted to reach the temperature required for a specific cargo. Some trailers have multiple temperature zones inside, allowing different types of cargo to be transported in the same reefer.

Part of the safety of transporting perishable foodstuffs is to ensure that the temperature ranges of refrigerated trailers are appropriate for the goods being transported. But what types of goods are usually shipped in a reefer, and which reefers are best for a specific cargo? Let’s look at the most common questions about reefers.


Reefers are perfect for shipping fruits and vegetables due to their temperature control technologies. Foodstuffs are probably one of the most prevalent, and sensitive types of merchandise transported on refrigerated trailers. As they’re intended for human consumption, temperatures must remain constant to ensure safety. The appearance of the food product is also a concern. Consumers expect to find clean and attractive products when they enter a grocery store. Maintaining WFSA standards for refrigerator temperatures, vehicle cleanliness, and proper documentation is essential for the appropriate transportation of produce.

There is no single temperature for fruits and vegetables, as some are more sensitive to temperature variations. Think of lettuce: if exposed to higher temperatures, lettuce withers and eventually rots. On the other hand, products such as citrus fruits and melons can withstand higher temperatures. It’s also crucial to know if the product is late in the season, what variety it is, and any other special considerations that may affect the way you set the reefer temperature.

Poultry, Meat, Seafood, Dairy

One of the biggest concerns when transporting meat products is the growth of harmful bacteria. The general rule is that meat and poultry products must remain on 40˚F or less to prevent the growth of bacteria.

Often meat products are frozen to maintain freshness during transport and then thawed later for display. This slows down the movement of molecules, so harmful microbes cannot be active. The temperature ranges of refrigerated trucks must be confirmed before transport so that the driver knows the optimal temperatures for specific meat products. If a refrigerated trailer has temperature zones, different products can be shipped in the same refrigerated truck.


Often, when someone thinks of transporting perishable goods, they think of food items only. But shipping pharmaceuticals are big business, and they must be shipped appropriately to ensure chemical stability.

Sub-zero temperatures or elevated temperatures can cause a variety of issues, including sedimentation or separation of emulsified goods–even a change of 2 degrees can alter the chemical state beyond repair. Knowing which temperature category, a shipment falls into will help choose the appropriate refer trailer for the job, avoiding the risk of faulty shipments that can be very costly.

Florals and Plants

Like produce, plants and florals maintain freshness and beauty when kept at a cool, stabilized temperatures. Excessive heat can cause leaves, petals, and flowers to wilt, and thus be unavailable for sale. Reefer trailers act similar to refrigerators in a flower shop or grocery store. Reefer temperatures for plants are best at 33˚F. A few degrees higher dramatically increases the rate of deterioration.

Another consideration with plants is the humidity level. Plants, flowers, and even produce immediately begin to lose moisture when they are cut or picked. Thankfully, reefer trailers have humidity controls in addition to temperature.

Reefer Trailer Rentals

Are you hauling dry and refrigerated freight in Miami? If so, consider investing in a reefer trailer that can do both. Consider the region you’re transporting load to and from. You may be moving more meat in the Midwest and more food products on the West Coast. This will affect shipping timing and reefer temperatures needed. If renting a reefer is the right option for you, ICE ON THE ROAD offers a large inventory of reefer trailer rentals to local and international clients.

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