Traffic Closed on Highway After Massive Alfredo Sauce Spill: 'Can Smell It'

Drivers in Tennessee witnessed a unique sight—and smell—on Tuesday after an 18-wheeler carrying alfredo sauce crashed and spilled its creamy contents all over the highway.

Memphis Police told Newsweek the 18-wheeler was traveling on Interstate 55 through Memphis when it struck a wall. Officers arrived at the scene at 4:30 p.m. to find the contents of the truck spilled on the northbound lanes.

It was determined that the truck was carrying jars of alfredo sauce, causing shards of glass to also be thrown on the highway.

The crash comes just one day after a semi-trailer truck crashed spewing more than 150,000 pounds of tomato sauce all over the highway, injuring three people.

Truck spills alfredo sauce on Memphis highway
Here, an 18-wheeler sits on the shoulder of the road after an accident that left the northbound lanes of Interstate 55 covered in alfredo sauce. Memphis Police were called to the scene at approximately 4:44 p.m. on Tuesday after receiving reports of an 18-wheeler hitting a wall and spilling the sauce. Courtesy of Kate Bieri

The truck was driving on Interstate 80 through California when it hit another vehicle and then a median at about 5 a.m. on Monday, The Sacramento Bee reported.

In Kentucky, a semi-truck carrying thousands of bud light bottles overturned, causing cases of the beer to spill out onto the highway.

'Smells Like Olive Garden'

Footage of the alfredo spill posted to Twitter by FOX13 reporter Kate Bieri showed a thick layer of alfredo sauce and the cab separated several yards away from the open trailer.

"When we arrived just after 5 p.m. it did smell like Olive Garden, the smell of alfredo sauce was really thick in the air," Bieri told Newsweek. "I thought it smelled great, a very pleasant aroma. But it took about an hour of sitting in the hot Memphis sun for all that alfredo sauce to smell not that great."

Since alfredo sauce is cream based, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends people follow the "two-hour rule" when it comes to how long it takes to go bad.

But sitting on hot asphalt outside in the sun can expedite the spoiling process, which is what Bieri and others on the scene smelled. She compared the smell to sour milk or expired dairy products.

Bieri added that after a few hours, masses of bugs attracted to the scene, with several entering her vehicle.

"There were bugs everywhere," she said. "Just flying around, just circling the area. There were so many and probably six or seven got in our car. They were probably just attracted to the smell."

Memphis Police said one person was transported to the hospital for non-critical injuries. The highway reopened by 9:44 p.m. after all northbound traffic near the spill was shut down.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) told Newsweek that a HAZMAT team was needed to dispose of the material since the alfredo sauce is milk based and contains bacteria.

TDOT said clean-up lasted more than eight hours, with crews not finishing until 1:10 a.m. Seven different agencies were called to the scene to assist with the clean-up efforts.

Although crews were able to tow away the totaled semi-truck, it took all afternoon to clean the spill. Bieri said excavators were brought in to tow the truck off the road while others worked to clear the mess.

Newsweek reached out to the Tennessee Department of Transportation for comment.

Other Highway Spills

In June 2021, a vehicle collision between a dump truck and a semi-truck on a Florida highway resulted in a massive mess of cow feces all over the road.

Fortunately, the road was cleared within a few hours and the lanes were reopened. No drivers were injured in the crash, according to police.

In 2019, a truck carrying 44,000 pounds of Nutella overturned on the highway but miraculously all cargo remained intact and no one was injured. The truck did lose 150 gallons of fuel which took about two hours to clean up.

Updated 09/01/2022, 2:08 p.m. ET: This story has been updated with comments from the Tennessee Department of Transportation and additional information.