The cold chain refers to the management of the temperature of perishable products in order to maintain quality and safety from the point of slaughter, harvest or manufacture through the distribution chain to the final consumer.
The cold chain ensures that perishable products are safe and of a high quality at the point of consumption.
Each sector of the chain, from the point at which product is harvested or manufactured, to the point at which it is consumed in the home, shares responsibility.
Breaks in the chain may occur just as easily on a warehouse dock as they do on a supermarket floor or in the home refrigerator. If one link breaks, everyone suffers and the wastage and environmental impacts that follow can be catastrophic.
The silver bullet that will fix future problems of food safety is that the entire cold chain or major sectors in the cold chain, will follow a quality management system based on Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) principles. HACCP is an internationally recognised method of identifying and managing risk and, when central to an active food safety programme, can provide vendors, the public and government sector bodies with a high degree of comfort that food safety is being taken seriously and is well managed.