Frozen foods: properties and false myths to dispel
Frozen foods are great alternative to fresh food which helps both inspending organization that in the meal preparation: allow you to make a long-lasting stock of products to keep in the freezer and consume as needed and make superfluous many operations that require a lot of time in the kitchen, such as shelling peas or clean the spinach in the case of frozen vegetables. What’s more, they offer the possibility of bringing the vegetables you crave to the table even when they are not in season, because in the freezer counter of the supermarket they are available all year round. In short, they represent a great comfort for those who love to eat in a varied and complete way but sometimes have limited minutes, both for cooking and for shopping. And yet, despite their practicality and their widespread use, there are those who view them with suspicion, thinking they are a stopgap, an advantageous solution but of lower quality than fresh products. It’s really like this? Let’s find out together by debunking 5 false myths about frozen foods which have no basis.
Do frozen foods have a lower nutritional value than fresh produce?
Frozen foods are no less nutritious than fresh foods, indeed, not only their nutritional value is comparable to that of a fresh product but it can be even higher. In the case of fresh vegetables, in fact, even a few days can pass between the time of harvesting and the time they arrive on the supermarket shelves to be put on sale: in this period of time, exposure to air, light and heat causes vegetables to lose some of their nutritional properties. However, frozen vegetables within a few hours of harvesting they are subjected to freezingwhich occurs very rapidly and at temperatures below -18 °C: this method stops any deterioration process, keeping the nutritional properties unaltered, as well as the structure, aroma and flavor of the food. Therefore, unlike fresh vegetables, which lose a good part of their nutritional value if stored at room temperature, frozen ones arrive on the table with a nutrient content comparable to that of freshly picked vegetables.
Do frozen foods last a long time because they contain preservatives and colourings?
We see them beautiful, with bright colors, and we doubt that behind the appearance of the frozen foods there are preservatives and dyes with which they are added, but that’s not the case: the merit is all of the manufacturing process. Firstly, as we have said, quick freezing and keeping the product at temperatures below -18 °C cause the chemical and enzymatic reactions and bacterial proliferation to stop: this is the reason why these products last a long time . The law – specifically the legislative decree n.110 of 27 January 1992 on frozen foods intended for human consumption, which implemented a Community directive – prohibits the use of preservatives in frozen foods to prolong their life. Even the vivid color of frozen vegetables, therefore, is not due to substances that are added during the production process, such as colourings: instead, it depends on the light sunburn to which the vegetables are subjected before freezing to inactivate the enzymes that could cause their deterioration. This heat treatment ensures that they keep their color unaltered.
Are frozen products less safe?
The reference legislation governing frozen foods is fixed very strict rules to protect safety of this type of products, which therefore ensure high quality standards and do not present any risk compared to fresh foods. as it recalls theItalian Frozen Food Institute:
- frozen foods must be subjected to strict controls at each stage of their productionensuring the application of the HACCP protocol for the prevention of food contamination;
- the freezing it has to happen quickly and at temperatures below -18 °C to preserve the quality of the products;
- it must be respected the cold chaini.e. it is necessary that producers, transporters and distributors adopt procedures, tools and techniques capable of ensuring that the freezing temperature is maintained without interruption during the transport of the products and up to the sale, in order not to alter their quality and protect their integrity, hygiene standards and safety;
- inside the refrigerated counter it must be A thermometer is present and clearly visible which indicates the temperature, which must never exceed -18° C;
- frozen products they must not undergo any manipulation and must reach the consumer intact.
Are frozen foods bad for the environment?
One of the false beliefs about frozen foods is that they are not eco-sustainable. In reality, these products have an impact on the environment that is no greater than that of fresh foods, indeed, even more reduced because allow you to limit waste. Since they have long storage timesin fact, they reduce the risk of having to be thrown away because they are deteriorated, as can happen to a fresh product, such as vegetables, fruit, fish or meat, which we buy and don’t eat right away.
Do frozen foods cost more?
Not necessarily frozen foods are more expensive than fresh foods, on the contrary, they can also help save money. Products such as vegetables and fish, in fact, they are not subject to price increases linked to seasonality affecting fresh raw materials because, to be frozen, they come harvested and fished at the most convenient times of the year from an economic point of view. Plus, frozen foods they are deprived of wasteor inedible parts such as peels and skin, therefore unlike what happens with fresh foods 100% of the purchased product is consumedfor the benefit of both our pockets and the environment.
Of course, the costs may vary depending on the product we buy, both fresh and frozen, but certainly there is no mathematical equation that causes a frozen product to have a higher price.
In short, there is no reason to be wary of frozen foods, which in no way represent a less “noble”, safe, nutritious and quality option compared to fresh products.
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