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A couple of years ago, I took my kids to a fruit orchard in the Bay Area. The orchard had some blackberry bushes, so we picked a lot of berries that hot June day and then went on to also pick some apricots.

We placed the cardboard box with the berries on the back seat of the car and drove home--about an hour away. From that hour in the car which included the time it took the car to cool down, the berries had left bright purple-colored stains on the box. Clearly, the berries had suffered from the heat and would all have to be eaten quickly or be thrown away.

But, what about the big produce farmers and companies? Clearly, they cannot risk any such loss in quality or spoilage in their product. How can they be certain that their product will be properly cooled to insure freshness? First, they immediately move the fresh picked produce to a cooling facility to properly cool it down.

Any delays in removing field heat will have a dramatic effect on shelf life. Indeed, temperature is the most important element that influences shelf life and quality. According to the Sydney Postharvest Laboratory, some species of apples ripen as much in 1 day at 21°C as they would in ten days at -1°C. Some fruits such as berries generally ripen even faster at such higher temperatures.

Once in the cooling room, the biggest challenge is the rotation of pallets through different sections of the tunnels to make sure produce is cooled as soon as possible. This is where DeltaTrak® comes in.

The FlashTrak® PreCool Prime Temperature Monitoring Solution from DeltaTrak is an automated wireless system that monitors product temperature and time during pre-cool operations, and sends the data from loggers placed on pallets to a secure cloud-based service where it is graphically displayed and can be viewed from any device with an Internet browser.

The solution also features the Cold Chain iToken™ which is a dynamic traceability barcode label to identify each pallet and tie it to a specific cooling tunnel. The iToken also measures temperature abuse above its threshold. After initial cooling, if the threshold is breached during storage and transport, the iToken provides an alert when scanned upon delivery.

Ultimately, the FlashTrak PreCool Prime Solution will allow companies to get more turns per tunnel. This efficiency will save electricity costs while also saving labor costs by allowing remote temperature monitoring.

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The Produce Team focuses on the management, measurement, and monitoring of optimal temperature levels from the “field to the fork”.

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