A couple or so months ago, we invited representatives of the transport refrigeration industry for a discussion on macro issues concerning them. Not surprisingly, as has been the case with other sectors, the representatives spoke of a need for a better regulatory framework as a core solution to several challenges. One of the most frequent temperature-abuse scenarios, they said, took place not within urban centres but at the border, where waiting trucks, filled to the belly with temperature-sensitive foods, ran roughshod over concerns expressed by microbiologists and the broader food safety community.
Perhaps most alarming was the observation by the representatives that several of the transport refrigeration equipment in use were outdated and had been banned in many countries in Europe, for instance. Which begged the question, ‘What were they doing on the roads of the GCC?’
Within the cities, the issue had to do with the frequent opening and closing of refrigerated delivery vans, which caused temperature-sensitive foods to get spoilt.
Either way – that is, temperature abuse at the border or within urban centres – the technology for better monitoring and reporting was available, and that it was just a matter of adopting them, the representatives said.
The push for adopting them, the representatives agreed, would have to come from regulation and, equally important, from self-discipline among the owners of the fleets of trucks and vans. So while regulation is a key aspect, so is a proper food safety culture, where everyone understands the implications of unhygienic food and takes a holistic view of things.
In the context of transport refrigeration, proper food safety measures go beyond ensuring that trucks are not over-stacked with pallets in a manner as to impede airflow or that there is a proper interlocking mechanism in place in the case of the insulated panels that make up the body of the trucks; they also include regulations and human behaviour – a case of success being possible only if all the boxes are ticked.
Getting things right is important not only from a health point of view but also from a tourism perspective. In the case of a place like Dubai, which counts on tourism as one of the pillars of its economy, a food-related outbreak is unwelcome; it is, hence, vital that regulation and vigilance are at their comprehensive and absolute best along with an all-pervading food safety culture.
– B Surendar