Chilled vs. frozen. It’s a conflict that’s been raging since 1917, when Mr Birdseye froze his first fish. A century on, frozen foods continue to fight against chilled for market share, with 2015 sales showing steady year-on-year growth. But as younger consumers show themselves to be increasingly health-conscious, refrigerated ‘fresh’ foods are once more increasing in popularity. One-fifth of consumers see refrigerated foods as healthier and more natural than frozen alternatives.
In the food industry, freezing usually refers to deep freezing, or lowering the temperature of product below -18°C. In contrast, chilling refers to the rapid cooling of a food product from its manufacturing temperature down to refrigerated or cold temperatures, usually from 1 to 4°C.
Fresh is best and chilled at 1-4C, unless frozen is available. That's right: frozen food is just as—and in some cases more—nutritious than fresh varieties. The day they're purchased, both frozen and fresh food are nutritionally similar. After five days in the fridge, the fresh had less vitamin A, vitamin C, and folate than the frozen. For optimal taste, only leave in the fridge (1-4C) for 1-2 days. Keeping in mind, when meat and seafood is kept above 5 Celsius, bacteria that may have been present before freezing can begin to multiply.
The problems with chilled food is some food distributors claim this after it has been frozen. A food that has been frozen is not fresh, ever. Trying to con patrons is not only bad business, it's unsustainable. Noting that chilled red meat usually has gone through a process of wet-aging for approximately 4 weeks from paddock-to-plate before it is suitable for consumption.
Real Chilled foods (1-4C) cost distributors a small fortune, as so much stock is disposed of (or sold at a discount) after it comes close to or passes its sell-by date. These wastage costs must be factored into the price that is charged for the product, and is passed on to the consumer.
This means chilled food often undergoes various chemical treatments to increase shelf life, packaging for chilled beef is injected with harmless ‘modified atmosphere’ gases to keep the meat red.
The processes used to preserve chilled foods are all perfectly safe. But it’s important to recognise that many end up on our plates having undergone artificial chemical changes. Quality frozen foods, meanwhile, are subject to natural processes which are proven to lock in healthy nutrients.
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