A cold chain is a supply chain in which the products moving across the supply chain are maintained in an environment that is temperature-controlled from end-to-end. A cold chain is only as strong as its “warmest” link. Many food products must be maintained at temperatures between 2 and 8 degrees Centigrade to assure freshness and safety. As products move across the food supply chain there are many opportunities for breaks that compromise this target temperature range. For example, a perishable shipment may sit in the sun for extended periods while waiting to be loaded into the cargo hold of an aircraft or ship. Increased delays en-route can reduce available shelf life. Even small deviations from this temperature range can seriously compromise shelf life and increase the rate of product deterioration.
These problems ranged from administrative failures to control failures to regulatory failures. All are characteristic of the vulnerabilities that cold chain shipments confront.
1- Control Failures: The first failure is one typical of many cold chains—a failure to control the cold chain temperature during the transition between transport modes such as at an airport when the container is moved from one plane to another, or from truck to plane.
2- Administrative Failures: Simple administrative failures, such as not following shipment directions, can contribute to cold chain failure.
3- Regulatory Failures: Unexpected regulatory barriers are another source of cold chain failure. In this case, a series of regulatory snafus made it impossible to remove the shipment from customs where it was stored in an unrefrigerated warehouse—and also impossible to communicate a change in consignee.
The combination of these problems resulted in a complete failure of the cold chain.