Ben Adams, Jr.

The true tale of tuna in the cold supply chain

The cold-supply chain provides volumes of interesting “there-to-here” stories— tales about how foods get safely from production to your dining table. Picking up from last month’s column, let’s tell the travel tale of tuna originating from Southeast Asia.

First, please note that foreign producers of America-bound seafood have to meet the same U.S. food-safety regulations faced by domestic producers. When foreign companies want to compete in the U.S. seafood market, they have to play by our rules and be subject to inspections by our food-safety agencies.

Tuna is one of America’s top seafood imports, with more than half of canned tuna we import coming from Thailand. All of the tuna we eat here are wild-caught, meaning the fish are snagged at sea and then processed, packaged, and preserved (much of it frozen or refrigerated) right aboard ship— literally a food factory and refrigerated warehouse at sea. Good seafood processors will use time-and-temperature recorders (TTRs) in their cargo holds and containers— sometimes even within a case on a pallet to monitor transit storage temperatures and cold chain integrity.

Once the containers are filled at the processor’s location, the ship makes its way to the United States (major ports include Los Angeles and Miami), with transit by sea usually taking three weeks. At port, pallets of tuna are placed on reefer truck trailers or rail cars for distribution to warehouses like Adams Cold Storage. After temporary storage, the tuna is further distributed by truck or rail to its final point of use or sale.

From “catch” to the consumer, the tuna is subject to rigorous inspection, with technology and paperwork very closely checked to make sure the integrity of the cold-supply chain was never broken.


column by BEN ADAMS, JR.

BIO: Ben Adams Jr. is an owner and president of Adams Cold Storage LLC in Auburndale. He has been directly involved in citrus production, warehousing and distribution, as well as state and community support, since 1980. His facility incorporates 200,000 square feet of multi-temperature warehousing, with an extensive expansion project currently underway.

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