AFCCC

Eight Fundamentals of Cold Chain Asset Compliance

the eight fundamentals of cold chain asset compliance

The Australian Food Cold Chain Council’s reason for being is to encourage every company working in the cold chain space to to follow the eight fundamentals of cold chain asset compliance, writes Mark Mitchell, Chairman of the AFCCC. But as we know only too well, compliance means different things to different people, and the assets used in the cold chain are often forgotten about.

Many companies believe their assets are compliant because they have invested in the latest monitoring systems, and they’ve got the latest and best refrigeration unit. That’s all great, but what makes a cold chain asset compliant is a little more than that.

We all know that a complete cold chain process is a collection of systems and steps, bound together by collaboration throughout the cold chain journey as the goods are passed from one entity to the next. Some produce, harvested huge distances away from markets could go through up to 14 transfers. That means 14 opportunities for temperature abuse unless collaborative processes are in place at the beginning and end of each transfer. The cold chain is called a chain for good reason. It is a continuous collection of processes and reporting that begins at the source, and runs through the entire journey until it reaches the domestic refrigerator.

There are eight fundamentals to cold chain asset compliance. If you can tick these off, your assets are in good shape.

Refrigerated to ISO standards

Such standards exist to help industry choose the most appropriate and reliable asset technologies for the purpose. Put simply, ISO standards are an internationally recognised and proven formula that sets out the best way of doing something. In our experience, when chilled or frozen cargoes are lost, or things don’t work as well as they should it often means that standards don’t exist in the process being used. Cold chain enterprises should be wary of  ‘backyard technologies’.

Correct temperature

Temperatures that meet specification for the produce being carried are critical requirements of cold chain assets and measurement accuracy is vital for effective asset management and compliance.  The safety and quality of chilled and frozen food during transport from primary production to the distribution centre and retailer depend on maintaining the correct temperature of the food to prevent the growth of pathogens and minimise the growth of spoilage microorganisms. It follows that transports carrying frozen and chilled goods must have refrigeration units capable of maintaining the cargo at the correct temperature. 

Locked and secure

Security has become a significant element of the cold chain process and is under-estimated by many transport operators. In a compliant cold chain, there must be locking and unlocking procedures at the beginning and end of every journey. Too many transport assets running on Australian highways are open to the public. Anyone can enter the asset and that means the way is open for abuse of the cargo, abuse of the refrigeration system and must call into question the security of the entire shipment.

Monitored door openings

In the most compliant cold chain, all door openings are monitored and the length of the openings are recorded. 

Monitored temperatures 

Monitoring of temperatures in transport assets is now a no-brainer. Most serious players realise they have to monitor temperatures, moreso as the senders and the receivers of the goods in the transport are rapidly upgrading their pre- and post-transport processes to prevent food loss and wastage through temperature abuse in transit.

Alerts issued when exception occurs

An exception, which could mean a failure of asset equipment, or temperature abuse through open doors or a variety of other reasons, must trigger an alert to a responsible entity so that immediate action can be taken to fix the problem. If air temperature or product temperature is out of specification, it is good to know in real time when that occurs. While some think it is acceptable to  receive an exception report at the end of the journey, by then it is probably too late.

Record of journey and events

At the end of the journey, you have all the events that have occurred throughout the journey. If there is an audit, a cargo rejection or question over the temperature of goods carried, having good digital records of the journey and its events can be a saving grace.

HACCP compliant process in place

The seven fundamentals listed above are essential to achieve HACCP compliance. HACCP means hazard analysis critical control points, and is a food safety and risk assessment plan initially developed for the NASA space program to protect crews from disease-producing microorganisms. This is the process that recognises the critical control points in the journey where all of these attributes of compliant assets come into play. 

If you have ticked these off, you will have compliant cold chain transport assets.

the eight fundamentals of cold chain asset compliance

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