The Food and Drug Administration has issued industry guidance on how refrigerated trucks used for storing bodies amid the coronavirus pandemic may return to hauling food. But if vehicles are found to be in certain stomach-churning conditions, the agency recommends against such a conversion.
The New York Post reported that “since late March, virus hotspots like New York City used refrigerated trucks to store remains outside hospitals, morgues and funeral homes, while grappling with the growing number of deaths.”
On Wednesday, the FDA put out the new recommendations for refrigerated transport vehicles after being asked whether the units used for preserving human remains during the COVID-19 outbreak could “subsequently be used to transport and store human and animal food.”
According to the agency, the answer is “yes,” but trucks and trailers that have stored bodies should be “thoroughly cleaned and disinfected” before once again hauling goods for consumption.
There are exceptions, however. The non-binding rules suggest that the temporary morgues exhibit “evidence that interior surfaces were in direct contact with blood or bodily fluids,” that they not be used for storing food if “the unit is permeated by offensive odors that cannot be eliminated through cleaning and disinfecting,”
The FDA also suggested that trucks showing evidence of storing remains not be used for food storage purposes again if “there are interior surfaces made of porous” materials or if the insides of the units have been damaged to the extent that a proper cleaning is not possible.