The Food Standards Agency have to today released new guidance for those food businesses looking to reopen or adapt during Covid-19. Unsurprisingly, They really have covered every aspect from field to fork with key information for your staff. Any business in the food chain, this is well worth your consideration.
Fundamentally the Cook:Chill process is the latest evolution in food preservation, following earlier techniques such as fermenting, pickling, curing and even canning.
Essentially, the Cook:Chill process is the preparation of food that allows for it to be rapidly cooled following cooking. The food can then be reheated at a later date. The process has 4 main stages:
The process is predominantly designed to allow for cooking in larger than normal quantities (or batch cooking), depending on your operation and is relatively easy to implement within an existing business. Food is prepared and cooked following all normal HACCP legislation and regulations. Once cooked the product is then transferred into some form of Reduced Oxygen Packaging (ROP), sealed, and placed into either a blast chiller or blast freezer. The critical element of the Cook:Chill process is to reduce the product temperature as quickly as possible. UK guidelines state that for blast chilling product it should take no more than 90 minutes to get from +90°C to +3°C and to blast freezing should take no longer than 240 minutes to get down to -18°C. This part of the process is to eliminate harmful bacterial formation or growth. Further information can be accessed through our post on Blast Chilling/Freezing.
There are many other benefits to the Cook:Chill process such as, increased product shelf life, uniformed product/meal quality, batch splitting and even reduced ‘on site’ cooking times and labour costs. Hotel, pub, restaurant chains operate this type of model on a daily basis to quite a large extent whereby the majority of the meals are cooked in a central industrial kitchen and shipped out to their different sites for regeneration. However, the process can be scaled for all different types of food service businesses from wedding caterers to takeaway restaurants and even for those who want to safeguard their secret recipes.
Cook:Chill specialise in the design and implementation of this process, from manual and mechanical preparation equipment, to prime cooking and ROP packaging equipment, to blast and holding refrigeration. As part of the Cook:Chill service, we will attend site offering unbiased advice to assist in the specification of the correct solution for your business and budget. Contact one of the Team below for further details.
Blast Chilling and Freezing is a popular process used throughout the food industry for many different operational benefits. It is a term used to describe the method of cooling food to a low temperature quickly meaning that it passes through the food danger zone quickly therefore harmful bacteria is not given the opportunity to develop and multiply.
Why are they essential?
Not only do these units guarantee that there will be no future risk of any unwanted bacteria being passed to your customers, the products which you are storing will be kept in almost fresh condition with regards to nutritional value, colour, taste and texture. Government legislation also dictates that cooked food must be cooled as quickly as possible. This means that whenever food is chilled or frozen, it must be in the “Danger Zone” between +5°C and +63°C, where bacteria multiply fastest, for as little time as possible. Standard refrigeration equipment just isn’t capable of achieving this.
How do I know which type is best for me?
There are very well-known brands on the market offering off-the-shelf blast chilling and freezing capabilities solutions on a relatively small scale. These reach-in or roll-in models are more suited to cafes, care homes or even small hotels.
The modular blast chillers are designed to meet the versatile requirements of the food industry. Typically used in operations that are dealing with larger quantities, our most popular blast chillers and freezers are between 2 and 8 pallets of floor space. These units can sit internally or externally and linked into the main building and are more suited to central production kitchens, large hotels and small industrial operations.
For industrial operations such as a large food manufacturer, depending on the process flows, a mixture of the above solutions may work best. For example, one unit set up at the end of every line. Alternatively, there are companies who will supply and install either portable, container type blasting solutions or large bespoke units.
What should I do now?
Our advice is to always talk to a professional, as these types of unit take on an extra scientific dimension when compare with a commercial fridge or freezer. Have it clear in your mind how the process will work and how it will fit in with your existing operation, bearing in mind that the specialist will always work on the worst case scenario. The more information you can give them, the better the end result will be. Over or under spec’ing a unit will result in costs (and chaos) being driven up due to inefficiencies in one area or another.
Cook:Chill specialise in the supply and install of Blast Chillers, Blast Freezers and Quick Thaw equipment. All of our refrigeration equipment delivers a performance that exceeds both food safety legislation and HACCP compliance. As part of the Cook:Chill service, we will attend site offering unbiased advice to assist in the specification of the correct solution for your business and budget. Give one of the Team a call on +441179 646 497 or follow the link below.
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