The Effects of Climate Change on the Food Supply Cold chain: An Evidence Review
National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health
Perishable foods, including fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, poultry, and dairy, are essential to the diets of Canadians. In order to maintain food safety and quality, perishables must be kept refrigerated or frozen during storage and distribution from their point of origin to the consumer, a process called the food ‘cold chain’. A failure in maintaining the proper temperature at any point during the cold chain can result in microbial growth, discolouring, bruising, or degradation of the product.
The effects of climate change are increasingly impacting populations in Canada and worldwide. Canadians have experienced greater frequency and severity of climate change-related events such as heat waves, wildfires, and floods. These events can disrupt the distribution of goods across the country and between countries. In the case of perishable foods, these disruptions may cause additional challenges in maintaining the integrity of the cold chain. In the absence of effective adaptation, this can have consequences on the health of Canadians by increasing the risk of foodborne illnesses or reducing access to high-quality foods in areas which are experiencing severe weather events.
This session will present the findings of an evidence review and synthesis on the food safety and quality effects of climate change on the food supply cold chain. It will include a review of current academic and grey literature, as well as any relevant findings or lessons learned from experiences of recent natural disasters in Canada. The results will discuss gaps in research and policy, examples of promising adaptation technologies and/or procedures, and future directions for adapting and preparing food supply cold chains for challenges posed by climate change.