Australian Food Cold Chain Council chair, Mark Mitchell, has called on industry across the Asia Pacific to take action to reduce waste which has reached mammoth proportions globally.
In a call to arms at the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) Forum, Mitchell said it is time to make better use of existing technologies to build a robust and compliant cold chain.
He told international 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 alone is valued at $A3.8 billion at farm gate prices, and on top of that, there are huge impacts of poor temperature control in the cold chain that leads to reduced shelf life.
“While product traceability covering location and time might be okay for non-refrigerated consumer goods, it is not enough for food,” Mitchell said.
“Product temperature monitoring must be continuous – a confirmation of temperature only at the end point of the chain is not good enough.
“Technology and automatic systems for monitoring temperature throughout the whole journey were are available, but under-utilised in the food industry.”
His message for cold chain practitioners who want to be part of a compliant cold chain, was to become verifiers in cold chain processes that allow measurement of temperature at all points, with the data handed over during the delivery of goods.
A 2020 study funded by Australia's Environment Department and Refrigerants Australia found three areas that were crying out 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; and improved ‘chain of custody’ documentation ensuring shared responsibilities for maintaining food quality.
Compliance to world's best practices was on the APEC agenda because of the global food loss and waste crisis.
Mitchell said commercial, consumer, logistics and contractual arrangements should no longer ignore food safety and the opportunity for waste reduction.
He said new technology and systems were always at the forefront of the refrigeration industry and the cold chain, but proper implementation of existing first level technology was required to achieve compliant and optimised cold chains.