Source: Gesamtverband der Deutschen Versicherungswirtschaft (GDV), Berlin 2002-2007.
Depending on the type of product being transported through the cold chain, specific temperature standards are enforced. For products such as fruits and vegetables, a breach of integrity can lead to damage such a softening, bruising, unwanted ripening, color changes, texture degradation, and the development of rots and molds, all of which can degrade their value and marketability. Although optimal transport temperature is product specific and that a wide variety of temperature setting can be selected, five temperature standards are among the most prevalent:
- Deep freeze (-25 to -30 Celsius). The coldest temperature range that can be maintained by conventional refrigerated units. This temperature range is used mostly for transporting seafood (particularly shrimp, which is the world’s most consumed seafood) and ice cream.
- Frozen (-10 to -20 Celsius). Used for transporting frozen meat, including beef, poultry, and pork. Frozen bakery (cakes, bread) also falls within this temperature range.
- Chill (2 to 4 Celsius). This range comprises the standard temperatures in a refrigerator and is commonly used to transport fruit, vegetables, and fresh meat as it confers optimal shelf life without freeze damage.
- Pharmaceutical (2 to 8 Celsius; not shown). The temperature range at which most pharmaceutical goods, like vaccines, are transported. However, pharmaceuticals are rarely transported in ISO reefers, but in smaller refrigerated packages for van and air transport.
- Banana (12 to 14 Celsius). This temperature range is chosen for one of the world’s most-produced fruit that usually has its ripening controlled during shipping. It is also used for most tropical fruits (oranges and pineapples) and vegetables (tubers such as potatoes).
Temperature standards are easier to implement and monitor since they apply to a wide range of temperature-sensitive goods. Yet, reefers can also be adapted to maintain a specific temperature requirement of any given product.