Australian Food Cold Chain Council (AFCCC) has issued a ‘call to arms’ to halt huge food loss and wastage. The council says players in the cold chain need to make far better use of existing technologies as a means of building a robust and compliant cold chain.
Speaking at the APEC 2021 virtual conference on April 14, AFCCC Chairman Mark Mitchell told delegates that only a compliant cold chain had a chance of delivering consistent food quality and reducing food loss and waste.
Food waste in Australia is valued at $3.8 billion at farm gate prices. On top of that, there are huge impacts of poor temperature control in the cold chain that results in reduced shelf life.
In his presentation, Mr Mitchell said that product traceability encompassing just location and time was not sufficient for food. Product temperature monitoring must be continuous – a confirmation of temperature only at the end point of the chain was not good enough.
He says the technology and automatic systems for monitoring temperature throughout the whole journey are already available, but perhaps under-utilised in the food industry.
A 2020 study funded by Australia’s Environment Department and Refrigerants Australia found three areas for improvement:
- Better food handling, such as reducing the time food spends outside refrigerated environments during transfer and more accurate measurement of food temperatures.
- Increased use of tracking/tracing technologies.
- improved ‘chain of custody’ documentation ensuring shared responsibilities for maintaining food quality.
Mr Mitchell called on cold chain practitioners to become verifiers in cold chain processes that allow measurement of temperature at all points, with the data handed over during receiving and delivery of goods.