Temperature control in the food supply chain is important for several reasons, to preserve quality but most importantly to ensure food safety. As a business, it is your responsibility to closely follow food safety guidelines when it comes to temperature control.
The cold chain is responsible for the preservation and transportation of perishable foods in the proper temperature range to slow biological decay processes and deliver safe and high-quality foods to consumers. Studies show that the efficiency of the cold chain is often less than ideal, as temperature abuses above or below the optimal product-specific temperature range occur frequently, a situation that significantly increases food waste and endangers food safety.
Food safety challenges in the temperature-controlled distribution network
Maintaining the cold chain from source to store is challenging. This is why temperature monitoring is so important – not only during the storage stage but also for the foods ongoing journey.
The major areas of concern for food distribution start with the cold chain and time/temperature control and include sanitation, cross-contamination, and shipping logistics.
Several causes, such as door openings during transport can raise product temperatures, couple this with the problem of ambient temperature being measured, i.e. from a device placed within the trailer, and a realistic view of product temperature will never be seen. Data reports will not show the true story - which is guaranteed to place unnecessary risk on your business.
However, gone are the days of looking at ambient temperature reports with unreliable data points tied to door opens. The new best practice is technology that gives real-time alerts, reporting on the actual product temperature at a granular level.
Accurate temperature monitoring from source to store will help you to mitigate potential food safety risks and build trust within your supply chain partners.
Temperature abuse in the supply chain
Failure to maintain the correct temperature throughout a product's cold chain supply journey can cause serious health issues for the end consumer. The most common and obvious issue that arises without maintaining proper temperature is bacteria growth which often leads to food poisoning.
Refrigerated storage is now one of the most widely practiced methods of controlling microbial growth in perishable foods. As a result of this practice, refrigerated storage is considered a potential risk factor for the development of microbial hazards leading to foodborne illness.
Exposing products to warm, humid air during unloading or loading represents a break in what should be a continuous cold chain, compromising hygiene and product temperature. Even a single, high-level temperature spike that is sustained for two hours can significantly impact the quality of a perishable product. These types of incidents and the effects of stock disruption and shortages affect customer loyalty and your business reputation.
Why accurate product temperature monitoring will revolutionise your business
By actively managing the cold supply chain you can move from reactive to proactive, preventative control measures. Here are a few ways that full visibility can help -
- Confidence that you are adhering to food safety regulations, even a few degrees in temperature deviation can cause food safety concerns, especially in products that are susceptible to temperature abuse, such as fresh poultry
- Quickly and accurately determine where temperature abuse has occurred, defining ownership and accountability
- Having the ability to identify temperature anomalies enables your team to solve persistent quality issues, which can save time and money
- Mitigate risk, with the ability to track cold chain compliance and food safety at a product level in real-time
- Remove the dilemma of having to decide to accept or reject a delivery without accurate temperature logs. Being able to identify the specific time and location that temperature abuse has occurred allows your team to check products with known risk
- Protect your brand's reputation, it goes without saying that any food safety issues can cause irreparable damage
Protecting your brand
Because of globalisation, the journey that food takes from source to store can be thousands of miles, with many stops along the way. There is plenty of opportunity for error as a result of shipping challenges, the vast amount of food distributors and their varying levels of knowledge around food safety, and government regulations.
Smarter cold chain management can help you successfully navigate the growing complexity of supply chains and their potential risks to food safety.