The food cold chain is an effective tool that allows food markets to maintain food quality and reduce losses. Nowadays, cold chain management plays a significant part in modern global perishable industries.
The cold chain of perishables and its proper management make it possible to maintain quality and safety at any stage of the food supply chain.
Cold chain is one of the main tools of the food industry. It ensures the optimal conditions for food meant for human consumption. Cold chain is a system that keeps food under a controlled temperature from the moment of its production or harvest until it reaches the final consumer.
Highly perishable food products retain acceptable safety and quality throughout the whole supply chain provided that certain factors are maintained, e.g., temperature and relative humidity. Perishables may suffer an adverse variation when the storage temperature is outside the ideal temperature range.
To preserve the unique taste of your fish & seafood, supply chain journeys must also be unique. It’s vital to gear up operations to meet the ever-increasing demand. Whether fresh or frozen, what remains true for all, is the need to eliminate multiple handovers, reduce waste, and race against shelf-life.
Food cold chains are refrigerated supply chains that are used to keep perishable products at low temperatures during production, storage and distribution, with the goal of maintaining quality while reducing losses.
Unforeseen changes in temperature and improper management of food cold chains can have detrimental effects on food quality, leading to increased levels of food risk and reduced consumer confidence.
The concepts of the unbroken “chain” of cold temperatures and product history are the most basic core characteristics of food cold chain systems, and an unlinked chain with missing documentation can negatively affect food cold chain tracing and potentially slow the implementation of product recalls during food safety incidents.
The Role of food packaging in the cold chain
Packaging plays a key role in protecting the product from contamination by external sources and from damage during its passage from the food producer to the consumer.
The choice of packaging is dictated primarily by economic, technical and legislative factors. Also, a well-designed and
consumer-appealing package will help to portray an image of high quality and responsible food production to the consumer.
The primary function of food packaging is to protect the food from external hazards.
Package barrier properties protect the food from ingress of gas, light, and water vapour, each of which can result in deterioration of colors, oxidation of lipids and unsaturated fats, denaturation of proteins and a general loss of characteristic sensory qualities.
The Importance of Cold Chain in Food Industry
- Cold chains are often used in food industry, and the average temperature range is 2-8c, but the specific temperature and tolerances used will depend on the exact item being shipped and stored.
- It is really important for food items to be kept cold, as unrefrigerated foods can become overrun with bacteria, which can very quickly turn into toxins and cause illness when digested.
- When the cargo is fresh, the cold chain must also maintain additional environment parameters, such as the air quality, which makes it very complicated to operate.
- A cold chain can therefore only work when it is subject to a quality management system that is analysed, controlled, documented, measured and validated.
- The use of refrigerator trucks, reefer ships, and refrigerated warehouses is common place within the cold chain.
- Recent technological advances mean that items such as temperature data loggers and radio frequency identification tags are now used to monitor the temperature history of a truck or warehouse and the product being shipped. The data collected from such tools enables contractors to establish the remaining shelf life of a product at all stages of its journey.