As the demand for ready-to-eat meals and innovative food products grows, so does the need for food safety and respect of the cold chain. Food product manufacturers are under pressure to respect cold chain care and preserve food quality in terms of taste and nutrition, while keeping their processes flexible. This is where Air Liquide steps in with gas solutions and equipment for any freezing and chilling requirement.
Freezing and Chilling at a Glance
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 2 to 4°C. For example: before fresh raw material transformation or after a cooking cycle.
Preserving taste and freshness of the products
There are significant advantages for food manufacturers in using cryogenic freezing and chilling solutions as compared to traditional mechanical systems:
Flexibility and speed of freezing, which increases the efficiency of the production chain
IQF freezing of delicate and perishable foods such as strawberries, raspberries and seafood without affecting their taste or texture
Crust freezing of ready-to-eat meals, ice cream cones or small servings of sorbet
“As the range of frozen foods has evolved, Air Liquide has also developed new innovative cryogenic solutions to freeze any type of food product, whether it be a solid or a liquid..”
Philippe Girardon, International Fellow Expert for Food
How did the introduction of cryogenics in production processes transform the food industry?
Freezing has been used for years in order to safely preserve food products. As refrigerated transportation improved along with better developments in home refrigerators and freezers, the popularity of frozen foods really started to grow. The food industry was already using mechanical systems for their refrigeration needs but consumers were looking for “healthy” frozen food options that had retained its initial quality and nutritional value. As a result, cryogenics were adopted by many frozen food manufacturers due to its much colder freezing temperatures that better preserved the product’s original texture, colour, flavour and nutritional attributes while ensuring a higher quality product due to the faster freezing rate.
What role has Air Liquide played in this transformation?
As the range of frozen foods has evolved, Air Liquide has also developed new innovative cryogenic solutions to freeze any type of food product, whether it be a solid or a liquid. Our customized offers include gas, equipment, expertise and technical support service that meet the required standards and regulations for food quality and safety while delivering an optimized cost of ownership for the food manufacturer. Thanks to the freezing power of cryogenics, we will continue to transform the industry with every new frozen food opportunity.
What challenges will Air Liquide face as it continues to innovate in the food industry?
We must always be ready to adapt to the changing needs of our customers in the frozen food industry. Our solutions need to continue to address food safety, quality, process efficiency, and traceability requirements for the industry and we must be ready to consider digital technology enhancements for our innovations.
Other challenges include ensuring compliance with government legislation and finding solutions to further extend the current shelf life of food products without compromising food safety and quality.
Air Liquide offers a range of quality gases for the food industry (meat, fruits and vegetables or dairy products and ready meals). As the industry benchmark, our ALIGAL™ products meets HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) standards for production and logistics of all liquids related to the agri-food industry. HACCP is a system which identifies, evaluates and controls hazards which are significant to food safety. ALIGAL™ goes above and beyond required criteria in adhering to strict specifications in addition to offering ensured traceability along the manufacturing cycle. ALIGAL™ gases come with a traceable identification number.
For freezing and chilling, Air Liquide has developed Nexelia™ for Freezing and Chilling, combining the best of our ALIGAL™ gases, in-house cryogenic equipment and services to meet the food industry requirements.
Our experts get to the heart of the client's operations, to understand the work-processes and where performance can be improved through our solutions.