The importance of guaranteeing the cold chain and the advantages of Leaf
4 Nov, 2021
Being a subject of wide discussion due to its correlation with the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, the cold chain is a fundamental process to ensuring the perfect preservation of a product from the producer to the end consumer.
What the cold chain is and what purpose it serves
It refers to the entire process of transporting a product that requires storage at certain temperatures and includes all the steps that take it from the producer to the final consumer.
Storage in a warehouse;
Exportation by air.
The cold chain is essential to guaranteeing the correct preservation of perishable goods as thermal shock can ruin the quality of the product, for example by altering the organoleptic properties of a foodstuff.
Therefore, storage must be carried out in refrigerated warehouses that can handle very low temperaturesand perfectly isolated from the outside. The same goes for the vehicles.
The cold chain for foodstuffs
The concept of cold chain in large-scale retail widely applies to the food industry as it is a fundamental process for the transport of:
Frozen products: to preserve all the nutritional characteristics of a frozen product, it must not exceed a temperature of -18°C;
Fresh foods: the cold chain is also essential for meat, fish and vegetables. For these foods the temperature must not exceed approximately -4 °C.
While refrigerated vehicles are used for transport, storage facilities are equipped with cold rooms capable of maintaining temperatures even below -40°C.
The cold chain is also ensured in retail sales, where the product is stacked and displayed in the refrigerated counters or in the freezer cells before reaching the table, without skipping a short time in a home refrigerator.
What happens when the cold chain is broken?
Preserving the cold chain is essential to safeguarding all of the nutritional characteristics of a food and maintain its organoleptic properties. Even partial defrosting leads to the immediate deterioration of the product.
Furthermore, maintaining the temperature preserves the food from any external risks. Even a brief break in the cold chain opens the door to dangerous microorganisms capable of reproducing even at temperatures close to freezing.
One of the direct consequences of interrupting this process is the alteration of the preservation of the product, making the expiration date on the label unreliable.
The cold chain, fundamental for the COVID-19 vaccine
The concept of the cold chain has a fundamental impact also in the scientific field and represents an essential process for the transport of various chemical-pharmaceutical components. There are many medicines that can only be transported at controlled temperatures and these include various vaccines
Many of them are effective if stored at the right temperature, an example is the recent vaccine for COVID-19: some variants must maintain a constant temperature of -70°C to ensure full efficacy.
The advantages of Leaf that support the cold chain
Isopan panels produced with Isopan Leaf technology can be used to create refrigerated environments that play a part of the cold chain.
They offer excellent thermal insulation performance and demonstrate tangible attention to sustainability thanks to the reduction of CO2 emissions during the production process and the use of halogen-free flame retardants.
Insulating panels with Leaf technology are the ideal choice for improving the efficiency of your cold room. By using the exclusive polyurethane foam, Leaf reduces heat loss by 20% compared to other panels of the same thickness. This makes it less costly to maintain the temperature inside the room by wasting less energy.
The Isopan range of cold panels can count on Isofrozen and Isofrozen HT sandwich panels, both equipped with Leaf technology. Based on double-sheet elements insulated with polyurethane foam, they help build the cold chain by making cold rooms extremely safer.
Marta Lupi, materials engineer and R&D Project Manager at Isopan, is involved in research projects aimed at identifying new product and process solutions. She works closely with universities, research centres and strategic partners for innovation.