The cold chain is pulling out all the stops

Article first appeared in Warehouse & Logistics News 1st June 2021

Trade flows have become somewhat smoother since the January headlines about post-Brexit disruption to food trade, but cold chain operators and their customers continue to work determinedly through the ongoing challenges. Our industry is also preparing for another period of significant disruption when the new arrangements for imports from the EU come into force later this year.

At the same time, as the UK continues to edge its way out of lockdown, sectors which have been so severely restricted such as food service are gradually moving back to full operations, and the cold chain is pulling out all the stops to meet their customers’ changing needs.

To some extent cold storage and distribution operators always works in the midst of change, but the situation now is certainly more extreme than any time in living memory. But our resilient, flexible industry is keeping pace, responding day to day to the unexpected, and planning ahead for those changes we can foresee: new global supply chains, increased demand for last mile deliveries, net zero regulations, and increasing demand for cold storage.

One crucial element in preparing for our industry’s future is making sure that food safety evolves too. Keeping frozen and chilled food safe is fundamental to the very purpose of a cold chain for food, and food safety compliance systems will need to be ever more resilient, agile and forward-facing.

As cold chains are complex, maintaining high food safety standards can require a lot of time spent getting to grips and staying up to date with a range of regulations, certification schemes, and best practice innovations. The Cold Chain Federation has produced a new guide to help make that process more straightforward.

Ensuring Food Safety in the Cold Chain is the first ever complete handbook on managing food safety specific to temperature-controlled storage and distribution that brings together regulatory guidance and best practice recommendations for managing the key food safety risks in the cold chain. The Federation has produced the handbook to make it easier for its members to develop, improve and implement cold chain food safety plans and processes.

Endorsed by global food safety certification leader BRCGS, the new guide will be made available as part of BRCGS’s online library platform, Participate, for sites and certification bodies subscribed to the BRCGS Global Standard for Storage and Distribution, as well as via the Cold Chain Federation website from June 2021. The guide has also been prdocued with support from the Federation’s members and Primary Authority Partner as well as the Food Standards Agency.

The guide details all the food safety regulations relevant for temperature-controlled storage and distribution, with advice on how to comply. Among other topics, it includes up to date information and advice on food safety leadership, Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) Systems, temperature control, preventing and responding to contamination, food allergens, good hygiene practise and defence against food crime.

We are on the cusp of the cold chain’s post-Brexit, post-Covid, net zero future. This is the time for businesses to consider how they can make food safety more efficient, more reliable, and fit for the future. Our new guide is a great place to start.

Ensuring Food Safety in the Cold Chain will be available on the Cold Chain Federation website ( in June, and food safety practices will be discussed in two Cold Chain Federation special food safety webinars on 6th and 7th July 2021.

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