Photo: Courtesy of Hermani AG.
Meat Cold Chain
Meat transportation is particularly dependent on the cold chain since once slaughtered unfrozen meat has a limited storage life. In North America, meat animals are collected alive and transported to major slaughterhouses / stockyard complexes (e.g. Chicago, Fort Worth, Kansas City). Then, the carcasses are frozen and transported mainly by refrigerated railcars to consumption markets. There, they will be butchered, packed and sold, commonly in large super markets having a temperature controlled room.
In Europe, meat is commonly transported live and slaughtered close to the point of sale. However, since grocery store sizes tend to be smaller and lack refrigerated room space, the butchering tends to take place in specialized facilities servicing a number of stores. On the above photo, meat has been butchered into smaller pieces that will be shipped to specific store where they can be cut down to the customers' needs. The system use insulated rolling containers where the temperature is maintained for several hours with dry ice stored in a drawer on the top shelve (eutectic plates can also be used). The refrigerated shipments are then rolled into a regular truck to be delivered. At the destination, the containers are simply rolled into the store and unloaded in a refrigerator with the integrity of the cold chain being maintained.