SHELF-LIFE AFTER THAWING: NEW TECHNIQUES AND INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS05/08/2022
The pandemic and the supply chain disruptions that followed have highlighted how important it is for many consumer goods – particularly perishable foods – to be delivered intact and on time. At the same time, the attention paid by customers to food waste and food safety has risen to unprecedented levels. Innovative technologies are now helping the sector to extend the shelf-life of food products while improving food quality and safety.
Among them, high pressure processing (HPP) is still the most popular. HPP is a unique food preservation method that utilizes cold water and extreme pressure to inactivate foodborne pathogens and spoilage organisms. Its effect on shelf-life extension depends on process and product parameters, therefore HPP effect on inactivation of the same microorganism can vary from product to product. Storage temperature after high pressure processing can also influence the shelf-life of the product: recent scientific studies demonstrate how HPP used in conjunction with freezing can prolong shelf-life up to three times in comparison to non-treated fresh products and guarantee a better food experience after thawing. As for the packaging to be used for HPP, this must have sufficient elasticity to transmit pressure and accommodate up to 19% volume reduction without losing seal integrity or barrier properties. For these reasons, modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) works very well with HPP.
MAP is also used in a new, groundbreaking procedure which can help food processors and retailers extend the life and quality of their food products. It is called Freshline Superfresh and it is a new methodology which combines the best of cryogenic freezing and modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) technologies to effectively slow down the deterioration of frozen food after it has thawed. Using the Freshline Superfresh methodology, a frozen then thawed product offers comparable quality, appearance and shelf-life to a standard MAP chilled product, while also maintaining both taste and texture. Recent tests have even shown that, in some cases, food that has been subject to the Freshline Superfresh process has a longer shelf life when it reaches the shop floor, if compared to the use of traditional MAP techniques.
The advantage of preserving food products using this new process is that they can be stored and distributed in a frozen state, before being thawed on demand at the point of sale or by the end user.