Strengthing Weak Links in the Cold Chain

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Perishable fruit, vegetables and ornamentals begin to loose quality as soon as they are harvested. Many of these products can be transported to market in refrigerated marine or land transport if they are handled properly to slow their rate of quality loss. Quality loss in one link of the cold chain adds to the loss sustained in the previous links. Product condition at market reflects the cumulative quality losses at each step in handling.

There are four environmental conditions that can be managed to get good quality product to market: 1) product temperature, 2) humidity surrounding the product, 3) ethylene gas concentration around ethylene sensitive products, and 4) atmospheric composition. Temperature is the most important of the four and influences the effects of the other three. Recommended levels of these conditions for most commodities can be found by visiting our website.(

Jim Thompson
Perishables Handling Quarterly