The Club has seen an increase in refrigerated cargo claims for fresh fruit from South America to the United States due to cold treatment failure. Cold treatment failure delays the arrival of the cargo to the US. Excessive delays in the transit time could result in the fruit becoming unmarketable or sold at a much lower price.
What is cold treatment?
The process of cold treatment is used to exterminate insects and larvae by maintaining a sufficient low temperature for a pre-determined period. The period and temperature required are defined in protocols established by phytosanitary authorities of the importing countries. The below requirements cover citrus, grapes, and blueberries loading in South America ports to the United States. It is a cleaner way to exterminate fruit insects than fumigation.
USDA Required conditions for containers
The pulp temperature for citrus and grapes must be kept under 34F or 1.1C for 15 consecutive days.
The pulp temperature for citrus and grapes must be kept under 35F or 1.67C for 17 consecutive days. Failure to maintain the temperature for the above periods will result in transit delays to the US. To prevent cold treatment failure, the below procedures must be carried out by the shipper.
Securely close the cartons following insertion of the sensors.
On Blueberries shipments there is a 0.5+/- Degree Celsius tolerance required temperature. With this sensitivity involved, any higher or lower, will result in cold treatment failure.
Newer Reefer containers under 5 years old should be used, (1) because they maintain the set temperatures better, and (2) they will have an average temperature reading option available.
The use of older containers will result in cold treatment failure whilst it is going through the defrosting cycle. The fixed temperature reader will show a 1.0+ Degree Celsius rise over one hour. Whereas an average temperature reading option would probably show a 0.25+ Degree Celsius rise over one hour.
Temperatures must be recorded at intervals no longer than 1 hour apart. Gaps longer than 1 hour could cause a treatment failure. Fruit pulp temperatures must be maintained at the temperature specified in the treatment schedule with no more than 0.39C (0.7 F) variation in temperature between two consecutive hourly readings. Failure to comply could result in treatment failure.
After the cold treatment and before the ship arrives at the load or transhipment port, USDA will obtain the clearance officer’s copy of the calibration documents from the ship’s officer. USDA and the ship’s officer will retrieve the temperature printout and review the readings.
The authorised APHIS official will:
Release the shipment for carriage to the United States if all requirements have been met.
Hold the shipment for further evaluation if irregularities are not consistent with treatment requirements and record all exceptions in narrative form.
Members should be aware that the precooling and loading of the sensors are carried out at the shipper’s premises. If the refrigeration unit is set at the correct temperature and there are temperature irregularities shortly after receipt by the carrier at the load terminal, then it can be concluded that the cold treatment failure is due to the shipper’s lack of precooling or calibrating the sensors. All liability for claims under these circumstances can be denied by the carrier.
If a claim is received, please contact the Club to assist in reviewing the temperature records to determine if the carrier is responsible for the cold treatment failure.