Trailer Magazine

AFCCC calls for accountability in refrigeration practices

  • Posted on Tuesday 23rd, June 2020.

In the lead-up to World Refrigeration Day on 26 June 2020, the Australian Food Cold Chain Council (AFCCC) has stated that the great gift of modern refrigeration and its supporting monitoring technologies are not being used to their full potential.

AFCCC Chairman, Mark Mitchell, said the refrigeration industry, along with the technicians who keep it running, deserved praise for developing and maintaining technologies that enable vast amounts of food to be moved safely in wildly fluctuating temperatures from one end of the country to the other.

However, Mitchell is adamant that users of refrigeration need to be better educated and informed in best practice so as to maximise the benefits of the technology.

He points to the rising levels of national food wastage as a result of poor temperature management, and forecasts that Australia will need to adopt serious training and education programs so that those responsible for moving food and pharmaceuticals around the country can get the best out of the wonderful technology.

“The best way for Australian food and refrigerated transport businesses to celebrate World Refrigeration Day would be to promise to do a great deal more to limit horrific food waste through better management of their refrigerated spaces and transport processes,” said Mitchell.

“AFCCC research shows that far too many people who use refrigeration have very little understanding of how it works,” he said.

The AFCCC has applauded the move by the United Nations Environment Program, the promoters of the worldwide celebration, to nominate the cold chain as this year's theme.

“While this is an opportunity to remind the world of the great benefits and opportunities provided by refrigeration, it also provides us with an opportunity to call to account those industry sectors in Australia which are misusing refrigeration through abuse of temperature controls and poor food handling processes in refrigerated transports, loading docks and cold rooms,” said Mitchell.

The AFCCC said it is working on a number of initiatives to improve cold chain processes in Australia – which it claims has a poor record in food safety under refrigeration.

According to the organisation, a recent government sponsored study revealed that cold chain failures cost the Australian economy nearly $4 billion a year at farm gate values.

Add to that the impact of that wastage on energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, and even the most sceptical would have to acknowledge that something needs to be done urgently to improve the cold chain, the organisation stated.

“Because of the vast distances in this country, food transport is a series of refrigerated events, in the hands of a range of stakeholders, many of whom don't understand how it all works,” said Mitchell.

“Mangoes picked in the Northern Territory may be handled through stationary and mobile refrigerated spaces as many as 14 times by multiple owners on a 3,400km journey to Melbourne.

“If temperature abuse through poor refrigeration practices occurs in just one of those spaces, the losses at the consumer end are compounded, and shelf life can be either drastically reduced, or result in the whole load being sent to landfill,” he said.

The AFCCC believes the big challenge facing the industry is how to explain efficient refrigeration processes to the people engaged in the industry, from those working in the loading docks, to transport drivers and shipment managers.

The organisation said it will take a combination of serious training and education and a far-reaching new Code of Practice – on which it is now working in conjunction with other industry players.

Also urgently needed, according to the AFCCC, is a more open culture of data transparency to enable government bodies to more accurately quantify the cost of food waste to the economy and, in response, develop initiatives to help reduce waste.

“So by all means celebrate the many great things refrigeration has done for society, but save some of your efforts to help put refrigeration technology to far better use towards reducing food wastage,” said Mitchell.

In other news, a study released in May revealed the cost of wasted food in cold chain.

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