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Shipping perishable food goods has its obstacles any time of the year, but for those in the food service industry, the warmer summer months present some very unique challenges. For one, far more food spoilage occurs in the summer months, resulting in more foodborne illnesses. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, there are some 845,000 cases of campylobacteriosis, one of the most common foodborne illnesses, each year. Campylobacteriosis is much more prevalent during the summer, and many of these cases occur as the weather gets warmer. Bacteria that thrive in warmer temps are among the biggest headaches for food distribution operations managers. Spoiled food results in lost revenue and a lot of FSMA compliance issues and other problems.
It’s important to employ extra vigilance when transporting temperature-sensitive food during these hotter months of the year. Doing so will thwart potential food-related illnesses being tied back to a shipment, and ensure that potential non-compliance issues and fines are avoided.
Following these 5 tips will ensure that food shipments are well prepared to make the journey:
Don’t skimp on food-packaging materials. In general, thicker plastic foam containers will keep food products cooler for longer durations. Using proper, high-quality shipping materials will help maximize the effectiveness of refrigerated transport vehicles.
Utilize proper refrigeration and plan shipping times wisely. There is much more involved in properly shipping food than packing it on dry ice and scheduling a UPS pickup. Using a reliable reefer truck or fleet of refrigerated trucks is the best way to ensure quality food transport and avoid spoilage, losses, and potential fines. Choose a partner that operates a fleet of newer model, well-maintained reefer trucks. Also, pay attention to weather trends and avoid sending reefer trucks out during the hottest part of the day when their cooling systems will be more prone to overheating issues or failure.
Make sure reefer trucks are pre-cooled. Reefer trucks are not designed to lower food temperatures, only to maintain them. Make sure that trucks are pre-cooled to the desired temperature of the foods being shipped in order to avoid spoilage prior to loading trucks.
Use temperature monitoring devices. Have a real-time temperature monitoring system in place that keeps tabs on food shipments throughout the journey, and alerts the responsible personnel if and when the temperature or humidity being monitored move outside specific boundaries. Data loggers only record temperatures and therefore, managers only learn of a temperature failure after it’s occurred.
Don’t let reefer trucks sit idle or not running. As with any vehicle, the temperature inside a reefer trailer when it’s not running can quickly rise by an average of 30 degrees above outside temps. Make sure the temperature monitoring devices used in a fleet include GPS asset tracking allowing operations or shipping managers to see where trucks are and track any idle or down time. Fleets that are kept running a majority of the time operate most efficiently.
These tips will help ensure that temperature-sensitive foods are preserved during the hot months of summer, saving companies money and reducing exposure to potential fines, or worse, being the cause of a foodborne illness outbreak.
tempCube provides high-quality wireless temperature monitors and the associated IRIS mobile app. Our real-time temperature monitors operate over and send SMS/text message alerts when temperature excursions occur. This allows operations managers to be proactive instead of reactive when it comes to handling any situations that may occur. To learn more, contact us today.