These facilities improve the conservation of food as long as adequate protocols of action are maintained
The use of cold rooms for the conservation of perishable products such as meat, fish, eggs or fruits is essential. The cold they provide is key in the prevention of many problems related to the appearance of pathogens in food. However, the problems that are implicit must not be underestimated. While the germs are immobilised for a time, if they stay longer than necessary inside the chamber, they “get used” to the temperature and start acting again. Keeping these chambers clean and disinfected, and using the most appropriate methods for this, can neutralise the bacteria in the food stored there.
The use of cold is one of the most universal systems for the conservation of food, both in the domestic and industrial. Its main advantage is that it allows to slow the activity of pathogenic microorganisms in food and, consequently, to extend its useful life. But it must be taken into account that, unlike the application of heat, refrigeration does not destroy pathogens, but merely inhibits their growth. In the industrial and commercial field, to keep perishable products at the most adequate temperature for the necessary time, cold rooms are used, of different sizes and capacities and designed to house all kinds of food. They come in all sizes, from small refrigerators to large capacity cameras for meat products, vegetables, fish or dairy.
The objective, whatever the capacity and the food, is to achieve an adequate conservation, which is possible maintaining a temperature slightly above the freezing point. With these degrees what is achieved is to maintain the liquid water constitution of food, which allows to slow down its degradation and preserve the inalterable properties during a more or less prolonged period. For the use of this industrial conservation to be efficient, it is essential to take into account factors such as the type of food that will be conserved, the quantity, the time and how the cleaning will be carried out. In short, the needs of the product and the characteristics of the installation must be evaluated in order to achieve greater product preservation.
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Under safe conditions
Refrigerating chambers are part of one of the main links in the food chain. Any perishable product becomes part of this step before being marketed as it is food that needs, uninterruptedly, the action of cold, from post-harvest or slaughter to consumption or use in the industry. Hence the importance of having adequate storage facilities, both in the production and supply areas and in the food processing industries.
From vehicles provided with this system, to industrial cold stores, supermarkets and restaurants, and finally, the refrigerator at home. All of them are part of this refrigeration need, from the raw material until it reaches the consumer.
The use of ozone in cold rooms acts by eliminating microorganisms from food and minimising odours
When it comes to preventing the growth of pathogens during the cooling phase, there are two fundamental factors that must be taken into account: temperature and time. The cold temperature must be maintained between 2º C and 5º C, below 8º C, which is when the microorganisms can begin to multiply. The food should be kept for the right time and not lengthen it since the humidity favors the proliferation of fungi and bacteria. Conservation is only effective and safe if the right environmental conditions are maintained; otherwise, and if the microorganisms find a “favorable climate”, for example, the release of odors increases, hence deodorisation and disinfection in this type of facility will in most cases go hand in hand.
Until a few years ago, the systems used to neutralise bacteria could affect the environment of the cold room. At the beginning of 2007, a group of Andalusian experts presented a system based on the use of ozone suitable for keeping food fresh for a longer time in refrigeration warehouses without altering other factors. This system is capable of acting on ethylene, a natural gas with the capacity to accelerate the maturation of fruits and the decomposition of other products such as meat and fish. And its mechanism of action is twofold: on the one hand it eliminates the microorganisms that can be found in food, which in most cases are introduced at room temperature, before being taken to the chamber; On the other hand, it destroys the smells.
Whatever the method to be used, disinfection should be done as many times as the storage of products allows, that is, provided that the refrigerators are empty, and aspects such as the irregularity of the surfaces inside the chambers should be observed. , which requires special care in areas where microorganisms can be located more easily.
Type of food
In addition to maintaining the facilities in proper cleaning and disinfection conditions so that the food is in good condition, it is essential to take into account the type of food that has to be refrigerated. Thus, for example, raw materials should not be mixed with processed products, nor products of vegetable origin with those of animal origin, unless they are packaged. Dairy products, eggs, poultry, game meat or fish and seafood are some of the products of animal origin that should be stored in isolation. As for the vegetables, they must be kept separately, according to the technological needs they need.
In the case of meat, such as poultry, it must not be forgotten that it is very perishable, so it is very important to maintain the cold chain from the moment of slaughter until it reaches the consumer. Within the cold route that the product must follow, it is included from the transporters to the distributors, who play a very important role in food preservation. If the controls are not followed to maintain the temperature at any of the points, the preservation of the food can be affected.
The control of the products that are stored in industrial refrigeration chambers must be based on aspects such as:
- Subject food as little as possible to outside temperatures.
- Make the entries and exits as quickly as possible.
- Handling food inside.
- Monitor that the temperature at which a food is introduced is adequate.
- Have a monitoring plan in case of cooling system failure.
- Have a record of food items that go in and out.
- Check the condition of the food on a regular basis and discard those that may be altered or damaged.
Here at PR Cool Rooms you will find a team of professionals ready to assist you with any issues or consultations you may have regarding cool rooms.