CLINTON COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) - Indiana State Troopers pulled about 2,000 pounds of spoiling food from a refrigerated truck heading to Lafayette and other area restaurants. Troopers said it was the smell that first gave it away.
It happened on State Road 28 in Clinton County, just a few miles west of Frankfort.
Toss after toss of potentially dangerous food was saved from human consumption and thrown into the dumpster. It was so warm inside the truck, they could dump water onto the ground from the cardboard lids.
"Immediately, what I see on the floor is rotted or putrefied food on the floor," said Indiana State Trooper Sgt. Rich Kelly, who made the initial stop.
Chicken, fish, eggs, vegetables, all a melting mess.
When NewsChannel 18 confronted truck driver, Billy Singh, he admitted it smelled bad.
"I know, I know," Singh said.
Singh said before he left Indianapolis Tuesday morning, he noticed the trailer was not cooling properly, so he took it in for repairs.
Troopers said, clearly, they weren't enough.
"It's not good," said Singh.
Singh said a new starter and more freon was added before he hit the road. But though the reading on the truck said 33 or 34 degrees, inside, it was blowing 84 degrees at the front, 101 degrees at the back. So it's no wonder the ice is melting and the cardboard is soaked.
Sgt. Kelly said it's the driver's responsibility and Singh should have known.
"Absolutely, not only from the smell of the back of the truck, but from looking at the product he's hauling," said Kelly. "The boxes are collapsing, there are pools of blood."
Just 15 to 20 minutes before being stopped, the truck made a delivery at the Everything OK Chinese Restaurant in Frankfort. The Health Department called soon after, so the meat and eggs that were part of the delivery have already been pulled to the side so investigators can take a look later.
Co-owner Ling Lee said she's glad the issues were caught before any damage was done.
"Oh yeah, sure," Lee said. "It's a good thing that they check on these things."
It's the fifth time that a so-called 'hot' truck has been stopped in the area in just over a week.
"I'm going to guess we're catching five percent of the real problem," Sgt. Kelly said.
So for every hot truck caught before delivering food, 19 more may go undetected. Kelly said just because it's Asian food at this stop, it doesn't mean a thing.
"Any type of restaurant can be a problem, or grocery store," he added.
The truck Tuesday was heading to nine more restaurants, including ones in Lafayette, West Lafayette, Logansport, Monticello and Rensselaer.
The driver was cited and troopers said the company could also face additional penalties.
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