Cold storage: Facilities fail to meet quality standards

Advanced methods to preserve commodities not being applied.

Imran Rana August 12, 2011

FAISALABAD: Most of the cold storage facilities built for preserving fruits and vegetables in Faisalabad openly flout hygiene standards as rotten foodstuff lying around breeds germs and insects, damaging the quality of fresh fruits and vegetables, traders say.

The staff manning the cold storage units usually lacks knowledge and specialised training to carefully handle fruits and vegetables and keep their quality intact. They are unaware of the storage requirements and conditions for different commodities.

“The staff does not apply advanced methods to preserve fruits,” said Ahmad Ali, a fruit dealer. The storage warehouses were expensive and vendors had to bear the cost of storing foodstuff there.

There was no automatic temperature control at the storage facilities, which was handled manually by a technician. Owing to the unsuitable temperature, fruits were destroyed most of the time, he added.

“Quality damage and cost of keeping fruits and vegetables in warehouses are among the main causes of high prices in the market,” he said.

Ali said storage infrastructure was missing at farms and most of the orchards had no sheds. Therefore, the harvested commodity was kept in the open, exposing it to all kinds of damages.

“Faisalabad has around 25 cold storage units which are not sufficient to meet the needs,” said Muhammad Afzal, Manager of Khwaja Cold Store. “These units lack ripening control equipment which maintains the quality of fruits and keep them healthy for a longer period,” he said.

Fruit agent Muhammad Khalil told The Express Tribune the cold storage warehouses did not meet industrial standards for various perishable items as most of them had no chilling room for pre-cooling before putting the commodities in storage.

Pointing to another problem, Roshan Cold Store Manager Shaukat Ali said “no association represents the cold storage warehouses, resulting in absence of an organisational mechanism to identify needs.”

Some dealers have their own small cold storage facilities and packing houses where fruits are temporarily stored before marketing.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 13th, 2011.