The following are the main points made by AFCCC Chairman Mark Mitchell during his presentation at the APEC High Level Policy Dialogue, held in Taipei in June 2018
'My message today is about reducing food loss and wastage in the food supply chain, with a specific focus on the transport and shipping side.'
The main message is apparently simple and small for individuals, but seemingly such a giant event for the global food transport industry to achieve. Hence the title of the AFCCC presentation, ‘A small GIANT leap’.
The leap I speak of is to implement product temperature control and monitoring across the global food supply chain and cold chains.
This is something the industry fails to do universally and my job is to show in a practical sense how it this can be done.
The importance of correct temperature
When food is transported at the right temperature, the chances, or even the possibility, of that food becoming a food loss or waste victim are dramatically decreased or eliminated.
When it comes to shelf life, everyone in the food supply chain has a responsibility to honour the promise food growers and manufacturers make regarding food shelf life.
Cold chain is a chain of events
The cold chain is a series of events broken into control points and critical control points. The industry as we know it today does very little to connect this chain completely together.
Aggressive commercial interests and unrealistic market forces continue to keep the chain broken and separated into nothing but a series of refrigerated activities.
In this environment, temperature abuse occurs, and food suffers reduced life and sometimes sudden death.
A compliant cold chain can produce proof of temperature
A compliant cold chain on the other hand, operates with complete cooperation across the critical control points. It recognises the twin responsibilities of the deliverer and receiver, and it proves its product temperature from the start to the end.
Cooperation at the critical control points means exchanging product temperatures, resulting in transparency and harmony. There is responsibility and safety at play.
This is distinctly different to hiding temperatures where only selfish commercial considerations are taken into account.
Two types of cold chain, but the temperature processes must be the same
There are two types of cold chains, the end-to-end model that is typical of international shipping and is the hardest to control and monitor temperature mainly due to the non-returning and variable equipment used.
However, those who do it right make sure their 3° is controlled and monitored all the way and then proven and returned at the end.
The second model is the closed loop cold chain where equipment and hardware is returning. It’s much easier to own the 3°.
And who owns the 3°? In both models the answer is each and every one of the stakeholders. This 3° should be shown and known by everybody.
Continuous product temperature monitoring
Product temperature monitoring must be continuous. In a good system, a product probe is inserted in the product, and the location is the centre or back of the trailer or container.
Data is automatically available to everyone offline via a printed docket, or an online report from a web portal.
If probing is not possible, journey temperature mapping is second best. This should be done with a system independent of the refrigeration system, preferably automatic and available as a report online or offline.
Smart probes have arrived
Smart product probes that deliver accurate product temperatures very efficiently without the necessity to interfere with packaging are now available.
They save time and money.
The end game
The main game is that whatever is done; whichever method is used, temperatures must be proven!
Once the onus of proof is required, behaviour changes, responsibility increases, value is recognised, and most of all, nobody wants to be proven wrong – that’s just human nature.
In my long experience in the cold chain, once temperature proof is in place, temperature abuse decreases dramatically.
The new Code of Practice
The latest initiative from Australia will be a rewritten Code of Practice for the Road Transportation of Fresh Produce in Australia. This code will be very product temperature and process driven, and we will be happyto share it with anyone when it is finished, hopefully by the end of this year or early 2019.