THE COLD CHAIN
What exactly is the Cold-Chain? It’s the chain of supply from the producer/manufacturer right along to the end consumer that must be kept under certain controlled temperatures in order to safeguard the integrity of your stock. Food goods are very sensitive to rises in heat and each product will have a different temp threshold, optimum temperature that can’t be exceeded or the merchandise decays.
There are standard regulating temperatures that the food cold chain must comply with in order to preserve their stock supply, ≤ +4°C (for fresh goods) or ≤ -18°C (for frozen foods). During the manufacturing, packaging and transport of these items temperature can’t exceed these limits or products might start to decay and lose their properties as well as flavor, smell and color; these temperatures must be kept during every single step of the cold chain supply, even after they reach retailers are placed in refrigerated displays.
It is of extreme importance for the integrity and consumption that refrigerated and frozen products be transported and stored in facilities that have temperature controlled environments and that there are no interruptions in the cold chain, particularly as far as delivery vehicles, point of sale refrigerated storage cells and sales display units are concerned. Food goods that have been exposed to the atmosphere, particularly if said exposure resulted in a significant increase in their threshold temperature, will begin to show the effects of alteration in their organoleptic properties; flavour, colour, aroma and consistency will be horribly and negatively affected, making the merchandise not suited for general consumption and object to an FDA recall sanction.
Food is very delicate and when it’s not preserved properly it can cause certain illnesses and diseases, in some extreme cases even death. When it comes to food products not adequately protected the digestive system is frequently the worse affected; people may develop long term and chronic conditions, even life threatening conditions such as bleeding ulcers. In order to avoid turning daily innocent goods into disease infested items, and to prolong the shelf life of these goods, they must be preserved appropriately; maintaining proper cold chain supply protocols and logistics, monitoring temperature gains is the best way to achieve this. “Preservation” can be defined as a series of techniques put into effect to preserve the original quality of the food item in question and inhibit degeneration, whilst ensuring the highest standards of safety and hygiene be maintained.
Food alteration, or degeneration, can be caused by any of the following potential hazards products can encounter through the cold chain:
- Light and heat; lights that are too incandescent can increment temperature and interrupt the cold chain, as well as intense heat can throw a cold chain down the drain if goods heat up and lose their coldness and freshness.
- Enzymes released when products lose their optimum temperature can spark degeneration of cell structures, which could lead to changes in consistency, softening, shrivelling and the creation of bad odours and poor flavour.
- Micro-organisms are created in certain goods by an increase in threshold temperature, some of which can become pathogenic and lead to food poisoning
Controlled temperatures during the entire cold chain supply are necessary and fundamental in maintaining the original qualities of perishable food items to avoid product decay thus avoiding monetary losses from wasted merchandise.
Blueline® is the smart label technology that has become an essential tool in ensuring the consumer receives a wide range of fresh food; this tiny block of ink can store all the data needed in order to correct possible errors in the cold chain and stop draining your profits with wasted supplies.