Perishables and Temperature Control
Transporting perishable goods has advanced dramatically. But how do you keep perishables cool if you do not have large scale refrigeration resources?
Understanding Ethylene and Respiration
Ethylene, often referred to as the ‘death’ or ‘ripening hormone’, is an odorless, colorless gaseous plant hormone that exists in nature. Not easily detectable, in nature the largest producers are plant and plant products (ie. fruits, vegetables and floral products) which produce ethylene within their tissues and release it into the surrounding atmosphere.
Ethylene plays a regulatory role in many processes of plant growth, development and eventually death. The common practice of placing a tomato in a paper bag to speed ripening is the classic example of the effect of ethylene on produce. Increased levels of ethylene contained within the bag serve as a stimulant and initiate the production of more ethylene, which is then reabsorbed by the tomato and repeated over and over (Flower).
Flowers, fresh fruits, and vegetables remain alive by respiration. High respiration rates rapidly deplete stored carbohydrates and create more ethylene, shortening the produce life. Respiration increases as temperature increases (Benkeblia), and therefore temperature control during transport is critical.
A flower held at 86°F/30°C will age/respire up to forty-five times as fast as a flower held at 36°F/2°C. When cooler temperatures are applied and the cold chain is maintained, the vase life of cut flowers is greatly extended (Reid).
Produce temperature is the most important factor affecting its quality. For fruits and vegetables, respiration increases by a factor of two to five for each 18°F/10°C increase in temperature above the recommended holding temperature. For example, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries, have a shelf life of seven days at 32°F/0°C, but only one day at 68°F/20°C. Longer-lived produce such as green beans, mushrooms, and green onions last only two to three days at 68°F/20°C. Above 86°F/30°C the produce will die or lose quality rapidly (Benkeblia).
All the way through the cold chain, produce should be held at its lowest recommended storage temperature. Keeping temperature in check is vital.
Bananas are a prime example for the need for temperature control of perishables in transport. To obtain maximum shelf life, harvest comes before the banana is mature but not ripening. The fruit requires careful handling, rapid transport to ports, cooling, and refrigerated shipping to prevent the bananas from producing ethylene. “To bring this tropical fruit to distant markets and have it be edible is kind of amazing,” says Randy Ploetz, a professor of plant pathology at the University of Florida. “It’s pretty much a science” (qtd. in Dawson).
Keep Perishables Cool with Powerblanket ICE
How do you keep perishables cool and safe without investing in a reefer truck? Your operation needs cooling; however, you do not have the resources to support large-scale refrigeration. Powerblanket offers innovative industrial cooling systems that will keep your assets safe. With the new Powerblanket ICE industrial cooling product line, you can efficiently regulate temperature-sensitive material under both regular and hot conditions. Transporting perishables and other heat sensitive materials is no longer a major challenge.
- Ready-to-ship industrial cooling / process cooling products are available for 15, 30, & 55-gallon drums, and for 5-gallon buckets.
- Custom systems can be designed for a large variety of industrial cooling applications, and shipped within 2 weeks.
- Blankets use Powerblanket’s patented heat-spreading technology in reverse to draw heat to the blanket and cool the contents of the container
- Blanket cover and insulation are the same as the robust system used in the Powerblanket heating products
- Powerblanket Ice industrial cooling systems are portable (120VAC required)
- Control the temperature of your equipment or bulk materials
- When materials are delivered too hot, waiting for the material to cool can mean lost hours/days
- Blankets can be left installed and running while bulk material containers are in use
Benkeblia, Noureddine. “Transportation of fresh horticultural produce”. Post harvest Technologies for Horticultural Crops, 2009, Vol. 2. 8 March 2017. http://ucce.ucdavis.edu/files/datastore/234-1291.pdf
“Flower Care”. Grower Direct. 9 March 2017. http://www.growerdirect.com/flower-care-ethylene-gas
Reid, M.S. “Handling of Cut flowers for Export”. 8 March 2017. http://ucce.ucdavis.edu/files/datastore/234-1906.pdf