Chill-On News

What's For Lunch Conference

08-06-2011 16:18

Food integrity is becoming increasingly important; authenticity, origin of food, geographical location (terroir), traceability and security and safety of food production requires new diagnostic tools and implementation of new information systems.

CHILL-ON at FrioTrack

2011-01-04 14:36

CHILL-ON results were presented during a seperate session under the umbrella of the FrioTrack conference in Barcelona on 18th November 2010.

Watch the presentations

CHILL-ON will improve the quality, safety and transparency of the food supply chain. Through a proactive and integrated approach, CHILL-ON will implement in-depth research for each step of the chilled/frozen supply chain.

The outputs of this project will be integrated into a holistic approach to deliver a complete integrated solution, to significantly enhance the state of the art of the entire food supply chain from - "farm to fork". The project should result in an novel concept for tracking and tracing - "TRACECHILL" to include input from novel biosensors for low temperature micro organisms, novel chilling and packaging technologies and smart labelling.

The focus of the CHILL-ON project is to provide for the first time ever an integrated solution for the entire frozen and chilled food supply chain in that context using as a test case of one of its most sensitive goods – seafood products. This will be done by implementing an interdisciplinary research and development work programme which includes a very wide spectrum of disciplines: from biochemistry; genetics and microbiology, through chilling, packaging, smart labels (eChillOn) and logistics up to information technologies such as active and passive RFID, GPS, GIS, electronic Supply Chain Management (eSCM) and a Decision Support System (DSS). These will all be integrated into the novel traceability solution proposed by CHILL-ON for the frozen/chilled food supply chain called TRACECHILL.  

As fish is the third most-consumed food product in Europe and because it is highly sensitive to food poising, the chilled and frozen fish supply chain has been selected as the test case for this project. To ensure transferability to all sectors, poultry meat has been selected as the second high-risk product group to be studied.

To achieve the objectives of the project, CHILL-ON has been divided into four distinct steps:

  1. Risk assessment of the chilled/frozen food supply chain and development of a quantitative microbial risk model combined with quantitative HACCP.
  2. Research, develop and validate cost-effective bio sensing technologies for the qualitative and quantitative detection of low temperature microorganisms.
  3. Research, develop, validate and scale-up cost-effective chilling applications, low temperature transport and storage supporting technologies to extend shelf life.
    a) This includes optimisation of the “Bubble Slurry Ice” technology based on the patented Wiped Surface Crystalliser System, and
    b) A comparative study of existing cooling techniques.
  4. Research, develop and validate a new generation of so-called “eChillOn – Smart Labels” (Combination of TTI and RFID technologies).
  5. Development and implementation of a new complex IT system (software and hardware) for data handling (TRACECHILL) and transfer (GPD, MDA, etc.) to ensure traceability.

Value traceability is defined as “the use of tracking and tracing systems and processes to match the incoming product attributes to outgoing product requirements for the purpose of improving profitability in one or more segments of the agro-food chain".

Traceability has been an essential part of quality assurance for a long time, and is built into the ISO 9000 family of quality standards. But even with the advent of vast desktop computing power, tracing product history has remained a labour-intensive and error prone process. That’s all about to change as we enter the era of smart, connected products the - Pervasive Internet era. In fact, new techniques, applications, and standards for product history will be among the most>powerful business changes brought about by networked sensing and control.

There are some generic concepts involved in traceability in food supply chains, which can in theory also specifically help participants in the chilled/frozen food chain to comply with legislative needs. However in practice these are not commonly applied because they are not integrated in a user friendly, cost-effective way for easy application in that particular context. Partners in the supply chain do not implement isolated traceability systems, unless these have an added value to their business. Traceability comprises both tracking, and upstream (where from) and downstream (where used/ where to) tracing (see Fig.1 below).

Combining the legislative requirements with the continuous need for information management to improve price/performance, gives the input for a cost-effective value traceability system throughout the whole supply chain. Value adding components needed being: Decision Support System (DSS) and electronic Supply Chain Management (eSCM).

tracking illu

chip 01RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification and is an automatic identification method. It relies on storing and remotely retrieving data using devices called RFID chips. These chips can be attached to or incorporated into products, animals or people.

RFIDs are primarily used to identify an item’s location (tracking) and to store batch-related data (e.g. charge no.). These data provide a product’s location, time of receipt and issue, etc. This information can be recorded and then read by a decoder and passed to those requiring the information.

There are two main types of RFID chips: passive and active.

box 01Passive: Passive RFID chips have no internal power supply. These chips are designed to draw power from an incoming signal and to use this power to transmit a response. The lack of integrated power means that these RFID chips can be as small as 0.15 mm x 0.15 mm and thinner than a sheet of paper. They are inexpensive to produce and are likely to be found on packaging in the near future.

Active: Active RFID chips have their own internal power supply to power the outgoing signal. These chips are considered to be more reliable than passive chips, and they are able to transmit a more powerful signal because of their internal power source. Today they are broadly implemented in logistics, in particular for tracking cargo during transport and storage. They have a very robust design to protect them against external, in particular mechanical, damage.

The aim of CHILL-ON is to couple RFID technology with Time-Temperature-Indicators (TTIs) to develop a new generation of so-called “eChillOn Smart Labels”

The information stored in the eChillOn Smart Labels not only allows the tracking (what, when and where) but also the tracing (what, when, where and in which condition) of a product. Both methods are essential to ensuring a safe cold chain.

All the information recorded by the eChillOn Smart Labels is fed into a complex database system called “TRACECHILL”, where it is further processed.


Supply Chain Management (SCM) deals with the coordination of the collaboration with chain partners, with the purpose to satisfy customer requirements as efficiently as possible. SCM spans all movement and storage of raw materials, inventory and finished goods from point-of-origin to point-of-consumption.

Especially for food products, SCM includes quality and risk management (including traceability). They require more than ever coordination between organisations in a business or a chain. Sharing information forms the basis for an effective collaboration.

In the CHILL-ON Integrated Project (IP), the legislative requirements of traceability will be combined with the need for sharing information in the chain. To enable this Chain Information Management, the Dutch company Chainfood has developed the Chain Collaboration Platform, which helps organisations to manage their co-operation and improve their supply chain and quality management.

This platform has already been implemented in several agro and food chains, including meat, feed, cereals, fruit and vegetables. In the CHILL-ON project, this Chain Collaboration Platform will be adapted to the specific needs of chilled and frozen products.

The CHILL-ON project will therefore lead to a total solution for chain information management for chilled and frozen chains, called TRACECHILL. TRACECHILL will be based on the integration and adaptation of proven (web) technologies including GPS, GIS, RFID and cellular networks and will be developed by Chainfood and its project technology partners Afcon, Motorola, Itene and Traceall.

TRACECHILL will enable the access to all required information for the supply chain and shall provide the platform for traceability and complementing services. The Chain Collaboration Platform has a central database, the Backbone. This is the data source for several tools to address various needs in the industry, including quality management, risk management, tracking and tracing, Supply Chain Management.

Specific Supply Chain Management Software for the chilled and frozen business will help managers to gain insight into quantity and value of product flows, inventory and production. It will provide insight into different product flows and their interaction. With Business Intelligence tools the data can be specifically prepared for information needs of the various chain stakeholders. Supply Chain Management will be based on data from their own business and data from suppliers, customers and other partners in their chain.

The SCM-system will focus on the added value of chain coordination. Important items are the savings on storage and thus energy and reductions of perish. This focus will intrinsically motivate the chain actors to contribute to and work with the Chain Information Management system.

Chainfood - NL-Arnhem - July 2006

    TTI labels show whether a product’s temperature and storage have been managed correctly.Inappropriate temperature fluctuations are known to be the major cause of food spoilage and illness associated with it. A Time-Temperature-Indicator (TTI) is a simple device (label) that displays a visual summary of the elapsed time-temperature history of the product to which it is attached. A TTI can be used on any product that is sensitive to temperature.

TTIs allow the customer to recognise whether products have been handled and stored correctly. Originally developed for highly sensitive and high-priced goods, TTIs have strong application potential in the food industry. Commercially available intelligent packaging concepts are usually based on labels showing a visible change in response to time and temperature of the product or the presence of certain chemical compounds. The basic principle of TTIs is a time-temperature dependent irreversible colour change that reflects the full or partial temperature history of a single product.

TTIs can be used to monitor the temperature exposure of food products during distribution, from production until they are displayed at the supermarket. They allow targeting of responsibility and serve as a proof of compliance to contractual requirements by the producer and distributor.

TTIs also help determine “sell-by-dates”. Without information on how the product has been stored, it is impossible for the industry to accurately determine by when a product should be sold and consumed. Suppliers are therefore obligated to reduce the shelf life of products, reducing possible revenue. Thus TTIs have strong potential use for both industry and consumers.