The refrigeration It is a key and necessary point for the production and conservation of food products, keeping them fresh and increasing their commercial life. Depending on the nature of the food, the need for cold in the different phases (production, processing and storage), will be one or the other.
Main refrigeration processes in the food industry
As far as the handling and preservation of products is concerned, we can distinguish the following stages:
- Pre-cooling: In order to slow down the metabolism of the different foods to extend their duration in an optimal state, rapid cooling is carried out, thus avoiding the reproduction of bacteria and microorganisms that may be harmful.
once the previous phase is finished and depending on the type of product, the storage and cooling temperature
will oscillate between 0ºC and 8ºC, slowing down bacterial growth again.
- Freezing: this process consists of lowering the temperature of a food below its solidification point between between -18°C and -35°C (will vary depending on the type of food). In this phase, the bacteria and microorganisms remain inert, allowing the frozen product to be stored for a much longer time.
Other food processes, such as sterilization and pasteurization , also require certain refrigeration phases, which allow the temperature of the products to be lowered while maintaining their organoleptic properties (color, taste, smell and texture).
In any case, we can observe the importance of cooling in the different processes in this sector, both for the production and for the processing of food. Likewise, it is worth highlighting the different types of cold rooms that are required, depending on the type of product to be stored and the temperature necessary for its best conservation.
Types of Cold Rooms
Positive Temperature Chambers
Positive temperature cold rooms operate in a temperature range of approximately 10 °C to -2 °C, and ensure constant temperature and humidity values. These types of chambers are ideal for storing flowers, meat products, fresh foods, dairy products, condiments and fruits.
Negative Temperature Chambers
Freezing chambers or negative temperature cold rooms operate in an approximate temperature range of -15°C to -25°C. They are suitable for storing frozen products such as: fish, meat or ice cream.
These types of chambers are used for the pre-cooling of fruit and vegetable products, freezing and deep-freezing of food.
Types of Refrigerants for Refrigeration Chambers
Due to the great concern that currently exists for the environmental impact and sustainability, the use in cold rooms of refrigerants (high-efficiency chemicals that are produced through natural biochemical processes), such as ammonia (NH3) and carbon dioxide (CO2), as well as green gases: GAS-HFO 1234ze (an option that ensures compliance of the European directive : zero depletion of the ozone layer and very low global warming potential), are excellent solutions for the food industry and for the planet.
Industrial Applications of Refrigeration in the Food Sector
As we have previously mentioned, refrigeration is very important within the cold chain in the food sector, since it is used both for food processing and for storage, both of the raw material and of the final products.
Thus, the refrigeration systems used will depend on the capacities and temperatures that are needed:
- Production and Handling: in this phase are used water chillers that can be air-cooled, like the models: MRM, MRS and 3HL or water-cooled, like the 3FX modular chillers to reduce the temperature of fresh food, thus preserving its appearance and flavor, extending its shelf life and preventing the reproduction of bacteria.
- Storage and conservation: It requires a correct refrigeration installation, since the cooling is carried out in rapid cooling tunnels or airing chambers. Cold rooms are generally used at low temperatures that adjust the relative humidity and provide adequate ventilation, prolonging the commercial life of food. It must be taken into account that the cooling and storage temperature will vary depending on each product and its needs for said processes, and that the omission of the temperature recommendations specific to each food can have important consequences, affecting the quality of the products (decomposition, lack of maturation, loss of flavor, etc.). For this phase of the process, we have our own NH3 and CO2 chillers .
- Freezing processes: In this case, to ensure a rapid freezing of the product, specific machinery is needed, which is designed to reach low temperatures in a short time. Freezing tunnels can quickly freeze any type of food, such as vegetables, fruit, fish or meat, and guarantee a quality final product, since it allows uniform freezing and minimal dehydration of all foods. NH3 and CO2 water chillers are the best solution for this.
- Sterilization processes: to eliminate bacteria and viruses from certain foods, a pressurized steam cooling system called an autoclave is needed. It is one of the most effective and well-known sterilization methods, and consists of increasing the ambient temperature of the product to the required sterilization temperature, and then cooling the product by lowering the temperature of the water inside it. For these cases, the
Ecodry adiabatic aerocoolders
(which are also specifically designed to save 95% water and 40% energy), as well as Frigel Group’s high-efficiency Microgel thermoregulators, allowing the whole process to be carried out more sustainably.
After many years of experience in industrial refrigeration, we are able to offer the best services to our customers. We have efficient personnel (both at a technical and engineering level), specialists in refrigeration installations for ammonia (NH3), carbon dioxide (CO2) and freons . Cutting-edge technology, and energy efficiency. We carry out custom manufacturing and “turnkey” projects for optimal performance in the different sectors. We work with control software that allows the client to know at all times and in an automatic and centralized way, the various parameters of the installation and the product, in order to be able to control the entire process efficiently and adjusted to the needs required by the customer. own product.
Thanks to all this and much more, we manage to provide each client with results that meet their objectives, guaranteeing the different quality values of each product, reducing energy consumption and promoting the use of refrigerants with low environmental impact, for sustainable industrial refrigeration. Therefore, if you have any questions about it or would like to ask us for a quote, do not hesitate to count on the best experts and contact us.