Meat Reefers

Tony Thompson

      As several people have mentioned, meat reefers were regarded as contaminated and unsuitable for other kind of food transportation. It was certainly possible to thoroughly clean and sterilize such a car, but it would take quite a car shortage before anyone would want to take on the job; and some produce shippers would not accept ANY meat-equipped car for shipment. That's why produce reefers would be unlikely to be used in meat service, given the need to sterilize afterward, and especially why meat cars could NOT be used for produce.
       Canadian railroad historians like to point out that the CN and CP overhead-bunker reefers were used for both meat and produce. I don't doubt that this was true, but I would express considerably skepticism that the SAME cars were used for both. Having part of the fleet assigned for meat service, and the rest for produce, is quite reasonable. Or perhaps a Canadian historian can provide evidence of the kind of regular cleaning and sterilization going on that would accompany using cars interchangeably.

Tony Thompson             Editor, Signature Press, Berkeley, CA
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