Guest Column | October 21, 2015

Are You Effectively And Efficiently Monitoring Your Cold Chain?

Lance Schultz

By Lance Schultz, Food Safety Consultant

The cold chain is the uninterrupted path along which temperature-sensitive products travel from the manufacturer to the consumer and plays a major role in the food industry’s supply chain. But, a successful cold chain requires monitoring and validating all of the cold chain’s components. Here are a few guidelines to help ensure your company’s cold chain is effective and efficient.

There are severe implications for chilled food products when temperatures rise above acceptable limits for that product. Microbial growth could occur and with it the risk of food poisoning to consumers. Chemical changes can also occur, drastically reducing the quality of the product.

When cold chains are effectively implemented, they provide a constant temperature for product susceptible to microbial growth or changes to chemical structure due to changes in temperature. The most difficult process to control in the cold chain is product shipment. Shipment involves temperature-controlled trailers carrying product to be offloaded at another manufacturing plant, retail facility, or restaurant.

To ensure that your cold chain is running efficiently, monitoring is critical. Data loggers and smart sensors are used to monitor storage units and conveyances — or the products themselves. Temperature monitoring tools include wireless sensor networks (WSNs), which utilize sensor nodes that are configured for application based on product-specific temperature and storage parameters. Radio frequency identification (RFID) is a fully-automated monitoring device that uses wireless microchip technology to track food safety and quality issues.

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