Food waste in Australia often happens because of poor temperature management, according to a study published by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
Food and food products can be exposed outside of a safe temperature range during handling, transport and storage. This results in waste worth billions of dollars each year (a conservative estimate is around $3.8 billion).
Reducing waste in the cold chain
To reduce waste and solve problems about poor temperature management, the straightforward solution then is to improve temperature management, especially during transport and storage where food products spend hours in. To accomplish that, here are some general strategies, opportunities to improvement and best practices:
- Better monitoring and record keeping of temperature across the supply chain (“what gets measured gets managed”)
- Improving insulation standards especially inside vehicles used for refrigerated transport
- Using refrigeration systems that are easy to operate and maintain (less room for mistakes)
- Adopting strict schedule of equipment maintenance
- Improving or maintaining air circulation inside refrigerated transport vehicles to reduce build-up of harmful gases and limit microbiological activity
The ultimate goal is to reduce food waste, improve product longevity and ensure the quality, safety and integrity of food products.
Often, it starts with better monitoring and record keeping of temperature levels. One way to achieve this is by using the appropriate methods, devices or equipment for temperature monitoring. For example, using an infrared thermometer (non-contact) might give a wrong temperature reading. A better and more accurate way is by using a thermometer’s probe to know accurately the product’s core temperature.
It’s an ongoing monitoring process that happens during food handling, transport, storage and distribution. When the temperature levels suddenly go beyond the safe range, the food products become compromised. This also tells us that the refrigeration equipment failed to do its job.
Tight temperature control is critical to reducing food waste and protecting consumers. This is why refrigerated transport companies set and apply high standards in their operations. For instance, Cooltrans ensures tight temperature control through accurate temperature monitoring and timely maintenance of refrigerated transport vehicles and equipment. Since 1997, they’ve been specialising in refrigerated transport and has since then been implementing the highest standards in the field.