Cryogenically freezing food products is the most effective and efficient method of maintaining the original quality, freshness and taste of produce that is subjected to prolonged storage periods in transit and in supermarkets. Sub-Saharan gas market leader Afrox plays an instrumental role in the success of this supply chain.
Liquid nitrogen (LIN) at -196 oC is the core component in cryogenically freezing a wide range of edible products – ranging from fresh meat, fish and poultry – to dairy, fresh produce and ready meals. Afrox applications engineer Hendrik Pretorius indicates that LIN is essential not only in maintaining quality, but also reducing product clumping and ice crystal formations.
“Through the cryogenic freezing process, products enter the freezer and are cooled using LIN circulated at high-speed by specialised fans to lock in the moisture and flavour. The LIN is then vaporised on the product to reduce its surface temperature and ensure fast freezing,” he states.
According to Pretorius, this process results in considerably lower cell deterioration, when compared to more traditional freezing methods, due to the formation of smaller ice crystals. “What’s more, the end-product also experiences reduced drip loss and dehydration, which contributes significantly towards achieving a texture and flavour that is almost identical to the fresh item.”
Another innovative new cryogenic freeing solution from Afrox is the Cyroline CW Cryowave freezer, which is designed for energy-efficient, individual quick frozen (IQF) product freezing. It boasts a patented vibratory wave action for product vibration and agitation within the refrigeration medium to produce rapid and uniform heat transfer times, as well as shorter freezing times, to ensure improved product yield and enhanced product quality.
Cryoline freezers from Afrox is designed and manufactured with hygiene in mind. These design features make the freezer compliant with numerous international hygiene and sanitary standards, including the American Meat Institute guidelines, the European Hygienic Engineering and Design Group standards and the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points standards.
Although cryogenic freezing is a niche market with product-specific requirements, Pretorius is confident of Afrox increasing its market share. “Afrox’s service offering includes a range of cryogenic freezing solutions, cryogen supply and fit-for-purpose installations. As high-quality frozen convenience foods continue to gain popularity, Afrox remains committed to manufacturing technically-advanced, tailor-made solutions for numerous industries,” he concludes.