76% of consumers do not know at what temperature frozen meat should be kept;
Lack of knowledge on food handling and storage may compromise food safety
Shanghai, November 6, 2014 – At what temperature should a pack of frozen meat be kept? Is the expiry date for perishable foods always valid regardless of the temperatures it was transported and stored? These are some of the questions asked in a study commissioned by Emerson Climate Technologies that reveals many Chinese consumers do not know how to handle and store perishable foods. Emerson is urging China’s food retail and cold chain industries to work together to improve food safety through more consumer education and the adoption of advanced refrigeration system technologies.
The Emerson study, “Enhance Food Safety with Less Cost” is based on interviews with 548 household shoppers in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. It finds that 62% of the consumers have increased their purchases of food products from supermarkets and convenience stores in the past year. Refrigerated foods such as milk, frozen fast foods, ice cream, and chilled and frozen meat are some of the favorite items purchased. However, the study reveals that many consumers lack important knowledge on how to properly handle foods that need refrigeration and freezing.
Misconception exists in food refrigeration
While 70% of the consumers know that foods need to be kept at recommended temperatures, surprisingly, many do not know what temperatures. Frozen meat, for example, should be kept below -18°C, but 76% either think that it can be kept at -10°C or above, or do not know at all. Only 23% and 18% of consumers know ice cream and frozen seafood, respectively, should be kept below -18°C. Most consumers do not know what “frozen” means in terms of temperature. When asked what the recommended temperatures were for storing common foods such meat, milk, yoghurt, ice cream, frozen meat and seafood, only 1.5% of participants provided correct answers.
The survey also reveals that 43% of the consumers believe that expiry dates are always valid regardless of the temperatures the food products experienced during transportation and storage. But the reality is that if a container of ice cream or frozen food is kept at room temperature for several days, the food will probably spoil well before the expiry date printed on the package.
The survey found that 65% of Chinese consumers believe low temperatures, like -10°C, can kill bacteria and keep food safe. In fact, only a very high temperature will kill food bacteria; cold temperatures simply slow down or stop the growth of bacteria for the time being. These results reveal some important misconceptions about food refrigeration and storage among Chinese consumers that may compromise food safety.
“This lack of detailed knowledge means more consumer education is needed. It is also part of the reason why consumers look to retailers and supermarkets to ensure the quality of chilled and frozen foods from source to store,” explains Ram Krishnan, President of Emerson Climate Technologies, Asia.
When asked, “Which type of store do you trust to have goods that have been stored at the proper temperature?” Ninety-one percent say a large supermarket. However, 47% of consumers also say they are not willing to pay more to improve food safety through better handling and storage of refrigerated foods.
Improving cold chain quality while keeping costs down
The Emerson study explains how cold chain technology solutions can help retailers create a win/win situation by both recognizing the responsibility consumers have passed to them and keeping costs down.
DIA, one of the world’s leading discount food retailers, has deployed an integrated intelligent facility management system supplied by Emerson across 22 of its stores in Shanghai. This system enables DIA to better monitor and keep its refrigeration systems at the correct temperatures. It also monitors and controls air-conditioning and lighting facilities to optimize the operations. As a result, the technology solution not only helps ensure food safety, but also delivers improved energy efficiency and saves on operational costs. After implementing the solution, on average, each DIA store saw energy savings of 24%, with an investment payback period of one to two years.
More education and industry collaboration required
Emerson urges China’s food retail and cold chain industries to collaborate to address these challenges. The company’s recommendations include:
- The cold chain industry, retailers and the government in China should provide more education to consumers.
- Promote and facilitate the deployment of best-in-class technologies through out the cold chain to improve food safety, increase efficiency and reduce costs.
- Industry players should collaborate to support interoperability and best practices throughout the supply chain.
- Establish improved national standards for the refrigeration industry.
The study involved face-to-face interviews with a total of 548 people in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, between 20 and 60 years of age. All participants are involved in the purchase of food for their households. The study was completed by CTR Market Research Co., Ltd (央视市场研究公司) in August 2014.
To download Emerson’s “Enhance Food Safety with Less Cost” cold chain study, please visit: www.EmersonClimateAsia.com/Coldchainwhitepaper
About Emerson Climate Technologies
Emerson Climate Technologies, a business segment of Emerson, is the world’s leading provider of heating, air conditioning and refrigeration solutions for residential, industrial and commercial applications. The group combines best-in-class technology with proven engineering, design, distribution, educational and monitoring services to provide customized, integrated climate-control solutions for customers worldwide. The innovative solutions of Emerson Climate Technologies, which include industry-leading brands such as Copeland Scroll™ and White-Rodgers™, improve human comfort, safeguard food and protect the environment. For more information, visit www.EmersonClimate.com.
Emerson (NYSE: EMR), based in St. Louis, Missouri (USA), is a global leader in bringing technology and engineering together to provide innovative solutions for customers in industrial, commercial, and consumer markets around the world. The company is comprised of five business segments: Process Management, Industrial Automation, Network Power, Climate Technologies, and Commercial & Residential Solutions. Sales in fiscal 2013 were $24.7 billion. For more information, visit www.Emerson.com.