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Food Transport Safety: Are Your Shipments Safe From Temperature Violations?

Thanks to the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), supply chain and transportation professionals are under stricter food transport safety regulations than ever before. Hanover Research recently surveyed eighty American Trucking Association members about their sanitary transportation practices, and the results show room for improvement—especially when it comes to temperature-controlled shipping.

According to the survey, temperature violations are the top non-conformance issue that ATA members face. Nearly half of the respondents said they do not measure cargo temperature before accepting a load, and most do not have established standards for accepting or rejecting temperature-controlled shipments. How much training carriers provide to their drivers on transporting refrigerated loads varies greatly. About a quarter of respondents said their drivers receive no training in this area at all.

Lack of training and established standards for transporting temperature-controlled shipments can be costly. According to survey respondents, the cost of a rejected shipment due to non-compliance can range from $300 to $80,000. If a trailer is not cooled to the right temperature prior to loading, or if a carrier experiences a maintenance issue mid-transit, additional costs may be incurred—sometimes resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars lost. When you multiply these costs against the total number of shipments that get rejected, it’s clear to see why temperature violation prevention is extremely important to keeping costs down (Food Logistics).

Cold Chain Industry Growth

Temperature-controlled shipping is on the rise. An increase in international trade is partially responsible for this, as more countries are focusing their export economy around perishable food production. Because of this this, keeping these products fresh for long periods of time has become increasingly important. Another contributing factor to the rise in temperature-controlled shipping is a change in dietary trends. Growing income levels have led to higher consumption of fruits, vegetables, meat, and fish (Food Logistics). As consumers demand healthier food options, supply chain professionals need to pay close attention to how they are transporting temperature-controlled freight.

Keeping Your Shipments Safe

There are several things shippers can do to make sure they are maintaining the integrity of their products during transport. First, it’s important to understand the nuances of temperature-controlled shipping. Most temperature-controlled commodity groups can be divided into two categories: living and non-living. Living commodities, such as bananas and citrus fruits, require different temperature setup and atmosphere control than non-living commodities like seafood and meat. For example, living commodities need to be transported under refrigerated conditions and have a shorter lifespan; while non-living commodities can be frozen and have a longer lifespan. Making the distinction between these two categories of products, and understanding the requirements of each, is vital to keeping your food safe.

Another thing shippers can do is attach a monitoring device to the freight they’re shipping. This tells the recipient of the product whether temperature violations occurred during transit, and where along the supply chain a breach of integrity took place.

When it comes to shipping temperature-controlled products, room for error is high. Being able to identify the potential locations, equipment, and circumstances under which a violation can happen ahead of time can improve the likelihood that your products will arrive in good condition. For example, some warehouses have better temperature maintenance and control than others. Shippers should also make sure the carriers they work with have reliable equipment to avoid problems due to defective insulation or poor air circulation (Food Logistics).

Are you at risk of a huge cargo loss due to mismanaged temperature-controlled shipping? Our team has a high level of expertise when it comes to moving refrigerated and frozen commodities. We are experts in FSMA and the food chain, and we work with some of the most reliable carriers in the industry who share our expertise in moving high-touch freight. Our carriers are committed to meeting our high standards, your standards, and most importantly your customers’ standards. We understand that the total cost of not meeting these standards can be significant for your customers. Therefore, we work diligently to ensure your customer relationships are not jeopardized due to mismanagement of your products during transit.

Whether you’re shipping poultry, fresh fruit, or ice cream, we’ll make sure your products arrive at their destination undamaged.