Performance of Cold Chains for Chesapeake Bay Farmed Oysters and Modeled Growth of Vibrio parahaemolyticus
Temperature-controlled supply chains (cold chains) require an unbroken chain of refrigeration to maintain product quality and safety. This study investigated cold chains for farmed oysters raised in the Chesapeake Bay, one of the largest shellfish-growing regions in the United States, and sold live to the half-shell market in surrounding states. Temperature sensors were used in boxes of oysters from February to September 2017, which generated 5,250 h of temperature data. Thirty-nine businesses participated in the temperature sensor study, and 26 of those businesses participated in interviews to further understand how cold chains function. Internal oyster temperatures were measured above 50°F (10°C) for over 1 h in 19% (7 of 36) of shipments, which is a temperature that exceeds National Shellfish Sanitation Program criteria. The highest internal oyster temperature recorded in any shipment was 54.5°F (12.5°C). Some parts of the cold chain had difficulty maintaining storage temperatures below 45°F (7.2°C) in warmer months when Vibrio control plans were in effect. We modeled the effects of temperature on Vibrio parahaemolyticus. The model predicted moderate bacterial growth before oysters were under temperature control, but cold chains prevented further bacterial growth and provided a moderate drop-off in V. parahaemolyticus abundance.