Freight to Plate: Clearing the Air

EatYourVeggiesThere’s a colorless, odorless, hard-to-detect gas, and it’s coming to get you. Well, it won’t hurt you physically, but if you’re a shipper of highly perishable food, it might steal from your bottom line.

The gas is ethylene, sometimes re­ferred to as the “ripening hormone.” It’s a naturally occurring byproduct of the decaying process, slowly seeping out of fruits and vegetables as they ripen. The problem with this comes when there’s too much of it – such as in a cargo hold or warehouse, where a lot of fruit and veggies are packed together. The higher the ethylene concentration, the faster the decay­ing process accelerates and the more ethylene that is produced. This vicious cycle, left unchecked, can be a death knell for your shipment.

That’s why, when Alaska Air Cargo expanded its chiller facilities in Seattle last year, it invested in an ethylene filter. “This is something new for us,” said Alaska’s Jason Berry. The carrier has situated an EF-100 unit, made by CJS Ethylene Filters, in each of the two cooler rooms in the facility. The two filters scrub out ethylene by forcing air through about 100 pounds of special pellets located within the unit. These pellets absorb the gas and can be used for three to twelve months before being replaced, depending on the amount of produce and the size of the room. According to CJS, each EJ-100 can clear any room between 75,000 and 150,000 cubic feet.

FOOD HOME | More analysis of fresh-food cargo

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