Over 40% of produce is lost yearly post-harvest. This could be a result of many factors. When it comes to food security, there are many factors that come into play to ensure proper food care, and one that plays a huge part is Temperature.
What are Temperatures?
When it comes to the degrees of hotness, coldness, and everything in between, we think temperature. Temperatures are measures of hotness or coldness present in an object. When it comes to food or other perishable items, the degrees of hotness or coldness of these items often speed up their spoilage or increase their shelf life.
Why are food Temperatures important?
Foodborne illnesses are a major cause of sickness in the world. These are caused by the improper storage of foods. When the temperature of storage and handling is not kept constant and is kept at degrees that are higher or lower than appropriate, food poisoning bacteria may begin to grow or would hasten their decay. High temperatures can also limit the development of color and ripening of certain farm produce. When over certain temperatures, enzymes in these fruits and vegetables responsible for the color changes and ripening die. So it is quite important that temperature-sensitive items are maintained at the right temperature. Being diligent about food temperatures will reduce the likelihood that disease-causing germs contaminate perishables.
What is the optimal temperature to store and handle food?
Different types of foods have recommended temperatures that would guarantee them a longer shelf life. Through the handling of these perishables to their storage, it is pertinent that they maintain stable temperatures and conditions.
For some vegetables such as cabbages and carrots, when kept at a constant temperature of 0°c, they could last for as long as 3 months. For tomatoes, when kept at a constant temperature of 15°c they last for 100 days. Peppers can last up to 20 days at their recommended temperature of 12°c, potatoes can last between 1–10 months at temperatures between 1–7°C while sweet potatoes at 15°c constant temperature can last for 4–6 months.
But what if these vegetables are kept at ambient temperatures? Well, they would last for a significantly less period. At a temperature of 35°C, cabbages, carrots, and potatoes would last for less than 2 weeks, tomatoes and peppers less than 2 days while sweet potatoes could last for just up to a month. Compared to storing them at their recommended temperatures, this would increase the rate at which these vegetables are wasted.
This is the impact of temperature on food produce post-harvest. It determines the rate at which we experience post-harvest loss.
How best can these foods be stored at their recommended Temperatures?
The best way to solve these issues of appropriate temperatures is through Cold Storage. Cold Storage solutions are facilities that are primarily used to store temperature-sensitive/perishable items at each point of the value chain. Cold storage usually stores temperature-sensitive items at certain temperatures to increase their shelf life at a constant temperature. These cold storage solutions range from Cold rooms to insulated cooler bags. These are designed in ways that enable temperature regulation of items. Ecotutu is one company that offers numerous cold storage solutions.
In a world where food temperatures are deemed important and, cold storage solutions are more commonly implemented, the ripple effect results in an increase in world food security.