Refrigerated and frozen products like foods, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and more require strict temperature control during cold chain transportation and storage. This helps ensure product integrity, keeping goods safe for consumption or use while preventing costly spoilage and waste. The ideal cold chain transportation temperature range, however, varies depending upon the type of cargo you’re handling.

What Temperature Classifications Are Used for Refrigerated Freight?

For fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy products, medicines, and more, refrigerated freight temperatures can be divided into three distinct categories.


Transporting refrigerated goods at temperatures ranging between 40° and 60° F safeguards products against freezing with the side benefit of managing moisture while they stay cold. It’s applicable for consumable goods like chocolates and other candies as well as certain electronic components and devices.


This category encompasses a tighter temperature range of 36° to 39° F. Fresh foods and some types of medicines require this strict temperature range to maintain their quality and safety. 

Super Chilled 

Requiring a temperature of 25° F, this category falls somewhere between chilled and frozen. Certain fresh meat products as well as some medicines are best stored at this temperature. 

What Temperature Is Frozen Freight?

All frozen foods necessitate transport and storage at 0° F or colder to prevent potential health risks and a decline in product quality. However, “frozen” is actually broken down into two main frozen food temperature range subcategories.


Foods and products that must remain frozen should be kept at a temperature between -10° and 0° F. Examples of frozen goods include frozen dinners, meats and seafood, vegetables, and more. Be aware, however, that some cold chain carriers and warehouses categorize the frozen temperature range as -4° F to 14° F, so be sure to confirm the temperatures that your specific transportation and logistics provider uses to prevent any unfortunate surprises.

Deep Frozen

High-sugar foods like ice cream and sorbet call for a substantially lower temperature, as do biological samples and some vaccines. Deep-frozen products must be kept at temperatures between  -22° and -13° F to prevent melting. To successfully maintain such temperatures even when a trailer is empty, companies need to operate a double-insulated trailer no more than three years old.

Maintaining Temperatures: Active vs. Passive Frozen Transport Technologies

Various technologies and cooling solutions are available for maintaining frozen food storage temperatures throughout the cold chain, depending on your needs. You can select frozen packaging for shipping that provides active cooling or passive cooling to control temperature.

Active Cooling

Active cooling solutions utilize electrically or battery-powered temperature controls for more advanced thermal management. Such cooling systems are generally built into cold storage and transportation options and may use dry ice for coolant.

Reefers are one such example of active cooling. These semi-trailers combine the use of an external, active cooling system mounted on the front with enclosed and possibly insulated containers to effectively keep the appropriate reefer temperature for frozen foods. Reefers aren’t meant to freeze or cool but to maintain a specified temperature.

Passive Cooling

Passive cooling solutions utilize insulated enclosures, passively controlling temperatures within them. The insulation may come in the form of polyurethane, polystyrene, or panels that are vacuum insulated, and passive cooling containers may or may not use thermostatic regulation. Passive cooling options for frozen products include:

  • Dry ice. As solid carbon dioxide that retains a temperature of approximately -112° F, dry ice is an effective option for maintaining freezing temperatures in goods during transport.
  • Gel packs. These bags contain polymer gel or water, ensuring frozen products stay cold for longer than using traditional ice.
  • Eutectic plates. Also called cold plates, these reusable and versatile plates contain liquid, frozen to achieve a necessary temperature and keep products in their proximity cold.
  • Thermal blankets. These insulated quilts surround or are placed overtop frozen cargo, serving as a buffer against changes in temperature and keeping the goods’ temperature fairly consistent during frozen shipping.
  • Liquid nitrogen. Achieving extremely cold temperatures of approximately -320° F, liquid nitrogen is so effective at maintaining frozen temperatures over long periods that it’s applicable for such important cargo as organs or tissue samples.

Contact Mulder Brothers for Your Frozen Freight Transportation Needs

Quality frozen freight shipping services are critical for ensuring that temperature-sensitive goods stay within their acceptable temperature range, avoiding quality decline and product damage. As experienced LTL frozen freight carriers, Mulder Brothers Brokerage specializes in comprehensive transportation, storage, and frozen logistics solutions for less-than-truckload shipments of cold chain products. We’ve built a network of trusted carrier partners to provide clients in the Midwest and nationwide with reliable, FDA-compliant services and 24/7 support.

Contact us to learn more about our frozen freight transportation services or to discuss your individual needs.

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