6 Best Practices When Shipping Hot or Cold Foods


If you are shipping hot or cold foods, you need to be concerned about the shipping temperatures throughout the entire shipping process. Some items need to be transported in a frozen state while others need to be kept at certain constant temperatures.

Temperature-sensitive items can be irretrievably ruined and in some cases result in transport compensation claims. To mitigate such risks, it’s pertinent to observe internationally accepted best practices in the cold chain transportation system, which should include all the stakeholders. Most of the items transported through this chain are highly sensitive products that require special handling from the point of loading all the way to the offloading docks. Below are a few best practices:

1. Professionals Should Do the Job

Getting trained temperature-control specialists ensures safe transportation of temperature-sensitive goods. Qualified professionals understand the fragile nature of the business from the beginning to the end. They should be able to handle these sensitive items in a way that does not expose them to damage.

2. Establish the Best Mode of Transportation

Whether the temperature-sensitive items are transported by road, sea, rail, or air, certain conditions apply for each mode of transportation. The ideal mode of transportation depends on the items being transported. For instance, extremely expensive items may be transported with the fastest shipping mode available. The volumes and the nature of goods being shipped may also determine which shipping company you may use.

3. Establish Clear Expectations from the Beginning of the Process

Everyone involved, from the carriers and shippers to the providers and vendors, needs to abide by a set of expectations as to what their roles are before the shipment is moved. A comprehensive description of the entire process should be in place. This includes the right temperatures, equipment needed, and other contingency plans.

This will avoid a situation where questions arise in critical situations. It’s important to clarify expectations so as to reduce cold chain breaks. Prior planning can prevent problems and help resolve issues as they arise.

4. Apportion Responsibility for Loading and Offloading

Shipping temperature-controlled items is an intensive activity that requires loading and offloading items. This is a critical stage in the often-critical and complex process of shipping cold chain products. Besides maintaining proper truck temperatures, other players such as carriers and shippers need to share responsibility for maintaining the correct temperatures at the loading points. Time taken to load and offload items should also be noted. Among tasks that must be completed include confirming the product temperature, inspecting the condition of the equipment, and checking for the appropriate container flow.

5. Balance Cost and Technology

The capacity of temperature-controlled equipment and the ability to use advanced technology that provides real-time monitoring has continued to greatly influence international cold chains. However, these technologies are expensive. It is, therefore, important to strive to strike a balance between the technological advances and their cost-effectiveness. For instance, products that don’t require intense monitoring could be cheaply shipped as opposed to the more sensitive items that require constant monitoring.

6. Observe Standard Operational Procedures

Stringent standard operating procedures must be followed when shipping temperature-controlled items. When this is replicated across the entire process, it promotes consistency and at the same time simplifies the process. A standard operating procedure should highlight three crucial areas: the entity responsible, required outcome, and monitoring checks and balances.

The best practices for shipping temperature-controlled items enumerated above depend greatly on the cooperation of all parties involved throughout the entire cold chain system. When each stakeholder plays their part as they should, the result is a successful handling of the cold chain process. Carriers and shippers should mitigate risk, boost efficiency, and facilitate the delivery of high-quality items to the end consumer by integrating SOPs and best practices.

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