Fluctuations in the storage temperature of frozen foods occur as foods make their way from the factory to the consumer's oven. Known as ‘freeze-thaw cycles’, these fluctuations can occur during transportation and in the consumer’s home freezer, as many appliances are designed to adjust the temperature slightly to prevent build up of frost.
“The more stable the temperature, the better the quality is,” Chris Kelly, director of technical services at AFS, told FoodNavigator-USA.com.
However the food manufacturer is not in control of a product’s treatment once it has left their premises – and consumers are increasingly discerning. “A product has to be good the first time around or the consumer won’t buy it again,” Kelly said.
The ingredients company therefore identified the need for ingredient systems that can protect products from quality degradation. Amongst the offerings it can adapt to a customer’s specific needs are Actobind, which works by stabilizing internal moisture; and ActoGlaze, which stabilizes surface moisture and reduces or eliminates texture degradation in meats and seafoods.
The Actoloid systems, meanwhile, prevent emulsions from breaking down due to ice crystallization. And the EasyBrown systems can be used for grilled or roasted foods, which do not need to be cooked at such high temperatures, thus retaining more moisture. If a consumer sees a dried out product when they have cooked it for the second time, they think it is poor quality, Kelly said.
The systems are combinations of ingredients – such as starches, gums and emulsifiers.
“A combination of a few things in proper proportions is usually more functional than one product,” Kelly said. “One gum will not fix everything in an unstable sauce.”
According to Kelly, the economy has raised interest in eating in the home, as people are not going out to eat at restaurants so often. This means there are opportunities for foods that are “convenient, quick, easy, good quality, and good for them”.
Consumers are also more knowledgeable and discerning about foods thanks to the plethora of food shows on television, and less likely to compromise with sub-standard goods.