Sean Kinsella, president of Thermo King Corp, offers a blunt warning for United States reefer fleets. He says the rapid growth of food imports into the nation will put more pressure on them not only to preserve foodstuffs in transit, but also to ensure they remain safe for human consumption.
"As the fresh food chain expands, so does the health risk," said Kinsella at a press conference at Thermo King's global headquarters. "As we work to increase our businesses to capitalize on the global economy, we must remain vigilant in our efforts to maintain product integrity."
Kinsella pointed to a recent US government report that estimates there are 9.2 million cases of food-borne illnesses a year in this nation - with 9,000 people reportedly dying as a result.
Refrigerated carriers are responsible for roughly 48 hours between field and dinner table, Kinsella said. He said reefer fleets can use that time to help prevent food spoilage by focusing on better temperature control.
"This new Cold War is a war of technology, a war of information, a war in which we are on the front lines with total temperature control," he said.
That equipment will become more critical as the United States relies more on food imports in the future, he said, adding that 70% of all fresh and frozen seafood, 34% of all fresh fruit, and 13% of fresh vegetables already are imported.