The Cold Chain: Keeping Food Fresh and Safe
Spoilage is a huge loss in revenue and goods to manufacturers. In fact, the USDA estimates there is $162 billion a year in food loss and waste through the food supply chain. Are there better ways to combat this extremely prevalent issue? Yes, it’s improving the cold chain you work within.
The cold chain is a term used to describe the entire chain of custody of perishable, refrigerated or temperature-controlled goods along the chain of supply from materials sourcing to goods delivery. A well-managed cold chain encompasses measures to ensure temperature-sensitive products like food and beverages are not damaged or compromised during storing, packaging, shipping, and delivery. This is done through thermal and refrigerated packaging, cool storage, and refrigerated delivery methods.
There are many different aspects of the cold chain, each providing an integral piece of the puzzle to keeping food fresh and safe for consumption. Today, let’s dive into the different parts of the cold chain, why they’re important, and how your organization can identify if you’re partnering with someone who properly values the cold chain, in turn, protecting the value of your product.
The first step in the cold chain is cold storage. A thorough and sufficient facility aids in maintaining freshness, mitigating product damage, and reducing spoilage.
Some facilities are better equipped for properly handling cold storage than others. Some are still very basic and use thermometers that need to be manually monitored and recorded. Others are implementing technology like smart thermostats to keep spoilage to a minimum.
Smart thermostats and sensors are the next phase in proper cold storage. They allow for 24/7 monitoring and access to the temperature of goods, without having to do a manual check. No longer does an employee have to hourly ensure the cold storage is, in fact, still cold, these numbers are in a convenient dashboard display for both the 3PL and manufacturer to see.
This eliminates any spoilage and food waste due to an improper temperature or system breakdown. It also proves regulatory compliance with temperature-sensitive goods.
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Maintaining steady temperatures during processing is another way to ensure the integrity of cold-temperature products. Processing the foods in an environment similar to the cooler is obviously preferable vs. processing in an over-warm facility, which is cause for spoilage and bacterial growth.
Tip: If you’re looking to partner with a third-party food logistics provider and you have perishable goods, ask not only about their cold storage and distribution, but also their processing and how they ensure food items maintain a steady temperature through every step of the cold chain.
Insulated boxes, packages designed to hold ice packs, and specific packaging and wrapping techniques are just a few ways to keep foods at the right temperature as they’re leaving the facility. How an item is packaged is vitally important for maintaining freshness, especially for extremely temperature-sensitive products like dairy.
Thermal packaging can be used on its own or combined with a refrigerated distribution method. This usually depends on how long it will take the item to be delivered, i.e. length of time it will be in transit, and how sensitive the product is to temperature fluctuations. Less sensitive items usually can handle extremely careful packaging, even when traveling a distance.
Sometimes great packaging just isn’t enough to ensure the safety of the food. Refrigerated distribution methods must be managed to keep food and beverage items cool while in transit to their final destination. Cold transport, when done properly, also takes into account humidity conditions and ensures a stable temperature is kept to continually protect product integrity.
These methods are especially important for very lengthy trips and with particularly sensitive items like meat and dairy products. But if you’re looking to distribute these items, it’s important to know more about different refrigerated distribution methods and consider the full equation of how these affect overall cost and return on your investment (ROI). Less spoilage can mean it’s likely still a good investment in the long run.
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Delays are costly for so many reasons, but can be particularly costly in CPG distribution of perishable goods because of spoilage. If goods are only packaged safely, but placed in a non-refrigerated truck, because the distance is short and a delivery deadline looms, the shipment is a loss. Those items have to be thrown away if time delays cause a loss in temperature of the goods beyond acceptable ranges. Using GPS to ensure use of shortest routes and quick detours when needed is vital to keeping deliveries of temperature-sensitive products from spoiling.
Location and Proximity to Destinations
Hand-in-hand with timely delivery is the proximity of the location where items are stored to tehj location(s), to which they’re delivered. Convenient location translates to fewer chances of accidents or spoilage along the way. A one hour trip is simpler than a four hour trip. No amount of planning and prepping can prevent 100% of all spoilage. But having a third-party logistics provider with a prime location or locations you’re looking to distribute to, keeps the cold chain working more efficiently.
Working with a Third-Party Logistics Provider that Values the Cold Chain
At Prism Logistics, we know that getting your temperature-sensitive products to their final destination safely is important to keeping revenue and customer satisfaction high. We take care of your needs and prioritize the cold chain in our day-to-day operations. We carefully map out the best routes for distribution, package goods for peak freshness and temperature regulation, and ensure they maintain a steady temperature while in our facility.
Prism operates a logistics network with 2,3000,000 SQ FT of capacity, approximately 10% of which is temperature-controlled. We take food loss and spoilage seriously so you can rest assured that your foods and beverages will be handled with the utmost care from retention to delivery.
We serve Northern California and can help you manage any issues you might be dealing with currently. We offer paperless communications & billing, live by our processes, and are quality certified to maintain and ensure compliance. Request a Quote to see how we can succeed and grow together.