Off Beat: Vancouver trucking business takes going kosher to a new level

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Kosher pickles, kosher hot dogs, kosher salt … and kosher trucking?

It’s become an interesting niche for a Vancouver business, and it doesn’t even require any cooking.

Food Express does observe the same guidelines used in kosher kitchens. But instead of following a recipe, Walt Keeney’s operation deals with one ingredient at a time. And it’s shipped in tanker-truck portions that you probably couldn’t get into your fridge.

Keeney gave an overview to The Columbian’s Mary Ricks for a recent Saturday Clark County at Work segment. He mentioned that his food-transport business is kosher, complying with Jewish dietary rules.

Later, the owner and president of Food Express explained how kosher guidelines are applied on an industrial scale.

‘Kosherize’ it

The washing facility at his Fruit Valley trucking terminal can’t “kosherize” (as Keeney described it) equipment used to haul bulk food. That’s a two-day process that must be overseen by a rabbi, he said.But the wash station can maintain a tank truck or trailer that already is kosher.

“That means absolutely nothing to do with a pork product,” he said.

Kosher guidelines prohibit the mixing of meat and dairy products, and rejects any egg that has a blood spot.

“We get trailers that haul 6,000 gallons of eggs. If just one egg has a blood spot, the whole load is nonkosher,” said Keeney, whose company has four other West Coast terminal locations. “I don’t know how many eggs you have to crack to get 6,000 gallons, but that’s a lot of eggs.”

Food Express also washes trucks for other companies.

“We need to know what their last three loads were,” Keeney said.

Keeney added that his company gets regular certification. All of the drivers who transport kosher food have copies of the letter they can show at their destinations. That letter also includes a list of the ID numbers of kosher tankers, just in case people want to check.

-- Tom Vogt

Off Beat lets members of The Columbian news team step back from our newspaper beats to write the story behind the story, fill in the story or just tell a story.