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Frozen food storage


Importance

This is also called cold storage. Frozen storage is important when we deal with perishable products such as meat, vegetables and the like. Food is sensitive and can easily be spoiled and be a cause for food-poisoning. Processed foods as well as foods that we cook in our homes therefore need proper attention, from preparation and until they are consumed.


Key Facts about Microorganisms

Microorganisms or Bacteria are the common causes of food infestation and food-poisoning.

It is good to know that, microorganisms need moisture, air and warmth, in order to live. The dryer the state of the food, the lesser they would prefer. Accordingly, foods such as meat and dairy products are easy targets for bacteria, if handled improperly. One of the most important factors that influences the growth of bacteria is temperature. Optimum temperature required for living by microorganisms, is similar to humans. Most disease-causing bacteria do not grow under cold storage environment.  Similarly, a temperature above 65 ºC can inhibit or kill them. A temperature below 3 ºC (or 38 ºF) is hostile to their development or growth. The colder the storage condition the better restriction of bacterial growth would be attained.  Hence foods such as meat should be stored at low temperatures as much as possible. Monitoring and controlling the level of temperature could ensure safety of the foods that we store in fridges as well as on other means of storage facilities.

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Precaution

Microorganisms or bacteria change the quality of food if not stored properly. The change of quality can be expressed as changes in colour, bad taste, bad odours, and abnormal physical appearances. Freezing of food, especially meat, ensures its good quality.


Most fresh food that is put in refrigerator can last 5 to 6 days. Longer shelf-life can be achieved by putting them in freezer. For example, if we put meat under typical freezer storage condition, which is -18 ºC (or 0 ºF) , beef meat can be stored for 6 to 12 months, lamb meat for 6 to 9 months, pork for 6 months, and sausage products for 2 months. Fish requires higher.


Rapid freezing of meat is usually preferred to slow freezing. This is because, water in the cells freezes quickly, and the ice crystals formed will be small and this causes minimal damage to the meat cell-membrane. This ensures less escape of the natural flavour of the meat. Conversely, if the rate of freezing method is slow, large ice-crystals will be formed inside the meat and this can rupture the meat cell membrane adversely. This then leads to an excessive loss of natural meat flavour.


When thawing meats, it should be done in a slow process, to avoid the loss of moisture. This is achieved if this is done by defrosting the meat in a refrigerator, without removing its package. Alternatively, some microwaves are featured with defrosting capabilities, hence could be used as well. If  the meat is left outside the freezer for long hours before cooking time, or is put in warm tap water, to speed-up defrosting, this would be dangerous. This is because the outer layer of the meat would be exposed to room-temperature, which is a convenient atmosphere for bacterial growth. This subsequently, could lead to bacterial multiplication and finally to food-poisoning.


Legal and Business Implications

The issue of cold storage is very important, especially for businesses. Food standard agencies of many countries or regions, require businesses (for example super markets and delivery companies), to follow certain storage procedures, in order to ensure the safety of the public. Businesses who fail to regard these instructions therefore may face penalties. Super markets for instance, use frozen or cold chain storage, to display  certain products; they  rapidly freeze meat and certain food varieties, in order to maintain their natural quality and to avoid food infestation.


Frozen food storage types

Here below are some of the common types of cold or frozen food storage:


By Yohannes Berhe

www.smartproducts-store.com

Updated: 17 January 2010

FROZEN FOOD STORAGE