The term cold chain or cool chain denotes the series of actions and equipment applied to maintain a product within a specified low-temperature range from harvest/production to consumption. A cold chain is a temperature-controlled supply chain. An unbroken cold chain is an uninterrupted series of refrigerated production, storage and distribution activities, along with associated equipment and logistics, which maintain a desired low-temperature range. It is used to preserve and to extend and ensure the shelf life of products, such as fresh agricultural produce, seafood, frozen food, photographic film, chemicals, and pharmaceutical drugs.Such products, during transport and when in transient storage, are sometimes called cool cargo. Unlike other goods or merchandise, cold chain goods are perishable and always en route towards end use or destination, even when held temporarily in cold stores and hence commonly referred to as cargo during its entire logistics cycle.
Cold chain logistics includes all of the means used to ensure a constant temperature for a product that is not heat stable, from the time it is manufactured until the time it is used. Moreover, cold chain is considered as a science, a technology and a process. It is a science as it requires the understanding of the chemical and biological processes associated with product perishability. It is a technology as it relies on physical means to ensure desirable temperature conditions along the supply chain. It is a process as a series of tasks must be performed to manufacture, store, transport and monitor temperature sensitive products.