Cold Chain Waste Reduction

Why the thermometer is the most important tool in Australia’s food cold chain

When you consider that the reading on a thermometer has the power to send an entire truckload of valuable food straight to landfill, you can begin to understand why knowing how to use this simple device is so critical. 

In fact, misuse of the humble thermometer is responsible for alarming food waste stats, with billions of dollars lost every year due to incorrect temperature monitoring and management. 

As a result, programs to improve the skills of those responsible for the integrity and safety of Australia’s chilled and frozen food supply have begun to filter into the market. 

Training courses specifically aimed at people on the front lines of the chilled and frozen food industry are helping to ensure that thermometers are used properly, waste is minimised, and profit stays within the business instead of being thrown in the bin. 

This highly specific cold chain training is relatively new to the industry, and to understand why it is so sorely needed, first you need to understand what’s at stake.

A skills gap that costs businesses billions

An employee working on a loading dock, in refrigerated transport, in a supermarket or within a hospitality environment needs to fully understand the tools of their trade. 

This includes the proper use of thermometers, the difference between the destructive and non-destructive temperature measurement, and how fractional changes to thermometer placement can have a big impact on the resulting reading. 

Most people may think they’re able to use a  thermometer – but unless they know how to properly apply the thermometer probe to different kinds of foods and packaging, they could be putting consumers, or the whole load, at risk.

Research by the AFCCC shows that QA systems that specify temperature checks at a series of refrigerated points in the cold chain are not being followed accurately by businesses. In fact, some companies don’t even take this critical issue seriously, despite their important role in the safe delivery and management of cold food.

This ‘temperature abuse’ is leading to massive food wastage, estimated to be costing the country $20 billion every year. 

The solution: training teams to close the skills gap

Despite being generally capable and skilled in their roles, cold chain practitioners often lack certain knowledge around the finer points of choosing, using and maintaining thermometers. Courses such as Thermometers and the Cold Chain Practitioner are designed to meet this need by providing targeted and specific training that aligns with the industry’s new Cold Food Code. 

By taking advantage of this practical training material and prioritising an education program for front line employees, cold chain management teams can quickly see significant improvements to their bottom line through a reduction in wasted product. 

Additionally, by applying a skills assessment matrix both before and after upskilling their teams, managers can accurately measure the return on investment through the employee’s expanded skillset, improved engagement, and more confidence in their role. 

Ready to close the skills gap in your business?

To find out more about training packages that will help get your team up to speed on effective thermometer use, contact our learning instructors.

Adapted from an article by Mark Mitchell that was originally published in the March 2021 issue of Food & Beverage Industry News.