1st IIR International Cold and Sustainability Conference

The 1st IIR Conference on Sustainability and the Cold Chain held in Cambridge, UK, on March 29-31, 2010 attracted over 150 participants from 22 countries. Academia, public and corporate research centres, public agencies and administrations, and the private sector were represented. This seamlessly organized event embodied the first in what is to become a series. For many years, the IIR has responded to growing awareness of environmental issues and trends in energy costs by holding series of conferences on specific themes with a view to enhancing knowledge and technology that contribute to the mitigation of environmental impacts and to reducing the energy consumption of refrigeration equipment. Given that the production and transport of foodstuffs definitely have a larger carbon footprint than refrigeration in the food supply chain, reduction in post-harvest losses is also a major concern; preservation of foodstuffs is of course the primary aim of the cold chain, and a worsening in global food security serves as a reminder of this essential fact. Thus, the launching of this new series of IIR events occurred at a time when food, economic and environmental issues are in the forefront. The main aim of the cold chain is to preserve wholesome, high-quality products for as long as possible. It begins as soon as possible following harvest, slaughter or processing (processed food, health products), and ends with the consumer. Also, as stated by Robert Heap during his opening presentation, the first thing to do is to reduce the need for artificial cooling through insulation, free cooling, etc… Thus, many aspects have to be taken into account. So, thanks to over 80 papers, lively discussions, 3 short courses and 3 technical tours, the Cambridge conference provided a valuable insight into a broad range of approaches, such as: insulation, optimizing expenses by saving and recovering various types of energy sources throughout the cold chain, new cooling processes, the carbon footprint, refrigerants, monitoring and control of temperature distribution variations over time in real situations in the entire cold chain (cooling and pre-cooling, warehouses, transport, retail, display cabinets...), packaging (the effect on temperature and moisture), storage conditions in consumers' homes, surface and core temperatures of products, microbiology and food safety and quality, super-cooling of food, pharmaceutical uses… Experimental studies are required in order to explore complex real-life situations and the papers covered experimental results to a great extent. Modelling and predictive tools also were shown to be important, as reflected by the broad range of fields covered: air circulation and frosting, cooling of foodstuffs, energy efficiency of supermarkets, display cabinets, optimization of systems comprising several types of cooling and heating equipment… The IIR intends to hold other successful events in this new series. It will also launch new actions: with the FAO and other international organizations, with the European Commission; moreover, the IIR is in charge of communicating the results of FRISBEE, a European research project on the cold chain. Find out more about the conference: www.icccuk2010.com and purchase the full proceedings CD-ROM: www.iifiir.org