Superchilling can extend shelf–life and reduce waste
Recent Defra–funded research undertaken here has shown that superchilling can safely extend the shelf–life of chilled foods without any loss of sensory quality. Superchilling reduces the temperature of food to around 0 to –2°C. Food is then stored at that temperature until being released into the chill chain.
The greatest extension in shelf-life was achieved with prawns. Research showed that superchilling could increase the shelf-life of cook-chill prawns to 22 days, a potential 120% increase on the 10 day chilled shelf-life subject to the protocol being implemented commercially. We also looked at the effects of superchilling on poultry and gammon.
Project coordinator Greg Jones said: "Superchilling is not a novel technique. It is used on an ad-hoc basis to build stock in times of high demand, such as Christmas or a ´barbecue´ weekend. Up until now there has been little data to support its use more widely and little information on the impact of its wider use on product safety. Our research shows that it can be used to extend shelf–life without compromising the quality or safety of these products".
In addition to extending shelf-life, we also showed that superchilling can reduce energy use and waste. We calculated the energy required to produce and distribute both superchilled and chilled farmed salmon. Although superchilling fish requires more energy during manufacture, more fish can be packed into each vehicle – because superchilling negates the need for ice during transportation - so fewer journeys are required.
The extended storage life also provides the opportunity to make chilled product to stock rather than to order, limiting waste from over–production that is not immediately dispatched.
Contact: Greg Jones