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freeze chain

What is the cold chain and how does it affect the quality of your food?

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Food storage is vital to maintain its properties and benefits.

From the harvest or the capture and processing of food, food safety resides in the cold preservation of many foods that, since they are taken in hand, begin a natural process of deterioration.

The role of cold is decisive in stopping this deterioration and maintaining the nutritional value of food and its original flavor.

Take for example the Fish. Once taken out of the sea, they go to cold warehouses on the boats, to be placed in large boxes or trays with ice once they arrive at the dock, and are transferred to the processing centers inside cold rooms almost immediately.

Once processed, the fish are packed and placed in cava-type trucks until they reach the supermarket and then into your fridge.

Throughout this journey, temperature variations try to be controlled to keep the cold chain at about -18 degrees on average and keep food in optimal condition. The objective is to stop the action of bacteria in the decomposition of food and inhibit their proliferation. These bacteria are not destroyed, but they do not reproduce to the point that they pose a danger to your health.

What happens when the cold chain is interrupted? 

If, as we indicated, the growth of microorganisms stops with the cold and an accurate record of temperatures in the distribution chain. There are unforeseen events that can cause the shelf life of products to be shortened and you can even become intoxicated.

There are many ways to tell when a product has thawed and refrozen again, such as frost buildup.

Re-freezing a product means that the decomposition process has stopped again, but the microorganisms that may have multiplied at that time have not been destroyed, but rather that the food lost nutritional qualities and flavors; For this reason, defrosting a food multiple times can be harmful to your health, because although the decomposition process is prolonged, this process continued between pauses and you may be consuming a damaged food after a couple of times out of the fridge.

Another sign that the cold chain has not been respected is that the food has soft and discolored areas in a non-uniform way.

How to defrost your food?

Give time to the time. The most important thing when defrosting is that it is done gradually and constantly for the preservation of food. While in freezing the important thing is to cool as quickly as possible. To consume food, it is better to thaw it slowly to limit the growth of bacteria.

  • Generally these bacteria proliferate between 4 and 40 degrees of temperature. So if you are going to consume something that is previously frozen, the ideal is that they go from the top of the freezer to the bottom of the refrigerator at about 4 to 5 degrees Celsius from the night before, and not take them directly from the freezer at room temperature.
  • When defrosting at room temperature, the outer layer of your fish, poultry and meat is the one that defrosts first; while inside they are still frozen. Decay inevitably begins, and your food is still frozen inside.
  • Can you use the microwave? Of course. Appliances have defrosting functions with food quality in mind. Read the instructions well and do not use regular heating cycles to defrost, with this you only get to cook the outside of the food.
  • Another safe thawing technique is to place properly sealed frozen food in a container under running cold water. One of the techniques that I personally use to manage my food in the freezer is to separate it as soon as it arrives home from the supermarket. For example, if I buy a large quantity of ground beef, I immediately separate it into containers. With this, I only defrost the portion that I know I am going to consume without defrosting or having to cook the entire package.
  • A thawed food should never be frozen again, except if it has been cooked above 70 ºC.
  • It is extremely important that you do not leave the refrigerator or freezer door open. Keep them closed as long as possible to maintain a stable temperature.
  • Check your fridge's temperature controllers and adjust them to optimize food freezing. The fuller the fridge, the more difficult it is for it to keep everything at temperature.
  • Remember to place the food in the fridge areas that correspond to him. And those that tend to be more easily damaged at the bottom of it, and not at the door.
  • When going to the supermarket check the labels.
  • The fresher the product, the safer it will be to consume.
  • Buy the products in supermarkets with a high volume of sales. This ensures that frozen products have been stored for less time and you will have a bit of peace of mind when consuming them. And if you buy in local markets, consume the product as soon as possible.
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