Every year in Australia there is an estimated 4.1 million cases of food poisoning that result in over 1 million visits to the doctors on average each year. Looking after where our food comes from, how it’s transported, stored and packaged underpins the Fast Moving Consumer Goods Industry.
When you pick up your fresh produce most are unaware of the term ‘The Cold Chain’ however in the fresh produce industry it is a well noted concept that all businesses with perishable goods adheres to.
So what is The Cold Chain? To put it in simple terms it is a temperature controlled supply chain. It denotes the series of actions and equipment applied to maintain a product within a specified low temperature range from harvest to production to consumption. Anything with a temperature above 5 degrees is considered to be in the danger zone.
Why is there so much emphasis on maintaining this? Well the risks to you as the consumer start with the product beginning to breakdown and losing its shelf life to harmful bacteria beginning to form on the product. The longer the product is not stored at a safe temperature the amount and type of bacteria that forms multiplies. We have compiled our top tips to maintaining your families food safety this Summer!
Maintaining the Cold Chain
From the moment our product is harvested it is then placed into a cool room where it is stored below 5 degrees. This temperature is maintained right up until it reaches the supermarket shelf. We recommend bringing an insulated cold bag with you to the grocery store so that while the product is on its way to your fridge it has the best chance of remaining cool and at a safe temperature.
More often than not consumers are leaving their perishables from the supermarket in their car for prolonged periods. Coming into Summer it is especially important to ensure:
- Foods are not in direct sunlight on the ride home
- Foods that need refrigerating are stored in an insulated freezer bag
- Foods are only stored in the car as long as needed
- Bring an Ice brick and place it in the freezer bag for the drive home if you don’t live close to the store
It is so easy to pick up our groceries and run around town to do a few odd jobs. Plan to do your food shopping last and take it straight home so perishable food temperature is not reaching the danger zone of above 5 degrees.
Maintaining the Cold Chain up until lunchtime can be especially tricky when our children do not have fridges to store their food in at school. Studies have shown that many households are sending their children off to school with perishable goods without an icebrick or insulated lunchbox. We need to make sure our lunches are kept cool so that our kids food safety isn’t at risk. The most effective way to look after our children’s lunch is to:
- Keep lunchbox stored in the fridge right up until you are about to leave in the morning
- Put an icebrick in their lunchbox
- Provide an insulated lunchbox which maintains the temperature
- Ensure your child is storing their bag in the shade/inside in air-conditioning
For more information regarding how to keep your food safe, please check out The Food Safety Information Council here https://foodsafety.asn.au/