Better food quality made possible by optimal temperature control

Air Liquide starts by offering free no-obligation customised advice
Food & Pharma
5 August 2019

Recent developments can now achieve perfect temperature control during the production and transport of food products such as meat, fish, poultry, vegetables, cheese and pasta. This brings some significant benefits.

“It is a well-known fact that temperature control is important in the production and transport of food,” explains Andy Augustus, F&P Market Manager at Air Liquide.
“This is to curb bacterial growth, because this obviously results in less wasted food because of premature spoilage. Temperatures that are too high or too low can also result in food being more difficult to process in subsequent production phases. For example, a hamburger can only acquire its characteristic shape if the temperature of the meat patty stays within certain limits.”

“Temperature control is not important to the same extent for every type of food, but in general, precise temperature control has been shown to result in superior process control, and therefore better food quality.”

Heat sources

Unwanted heat sources have to be dealt with at several points in the food production chain. Sometimes, it starts with the basic ingredients. For example, in recent years, due to high outside temperatures in the summer months, it has often been necessary to first cool the flour, which is usually stored in silos, before further processing into dough products. This is because the fermentation process would otherwise be induced too early.

The friction created in kneading and mixing also generates heat, which results in an unwanted rise in dough temperature. Often, the food then goes to another machine for shaping. But, if the food heats up too much, this has an adverse effect on viscosity, making it difficult to get the food into the desired shape and keep it that way. The temperature can also rise (sometimes excessively) during transport, which can affect shelf life. An example of this is that compost for mushroom growing must be cooled down in summer with dry ice, to prevent it from warming up too quickly during transport.

Superior precision

“Liquid nitrogen at -196 °C and carbon dioxide at -78 °C have the potential to keep temperatures in the food production chain under precise control. But, to make maximum use of this potential, the cooling process will need to be optimised in many cases. This usually involves just a few minor interventions that require little or no financial commitment. In some cases, though, the cooling systems on machines such as mixers, cutters, blenders or crushers may need to be slightly modified.”

Holding onto the lead in cooling technology

“The Air Liquide team has a large number of highly-skilled cooling and freezing experts - over 50 of them - and so we have a lot of in-house knowledge about cooling and freezing in the most diverse food areas.”

“Our cooling gases, nitrogen and carbon dioxide in the form of liquid, gas, snow or dry ice, comply with EU Regulation 852/2004, and we also have an ISO FSSC22000 certificate. Air Liquide is also developing high-quality tools for injecting nitrogen and carbon dioxide. These tools can be used in new process equipment such as mixers, cutters and blending and kneading machines, but can also be used to upgrade existing installations.”

Request an analysis free of any obligation

“Air Liquide has a team of experienced cooling and freezing experts (cryogenic food-experts) who, without obligation and free of charge, can visit food producers in Benelux countries to analyse the extent to which their production process can be further optimised. They then draw up a report covering the existing situation and opportunities for follow-up projects.”

Cryogenic gases for food preparation
Cryogenic gases can be added automatically from above in blenders, cutters, mixers and kneading machines. Here we opt for CO2, about half of which is converted into snow. This can also be done manually, in which case dry ice is the preferred option. Another possibility, if the machine allows it, is to inject the CO2 or nitrogen from below. This gives gains in the efficiency of the cryogenic gases and reduces the required process time, but it does need a special injector set-up. These injectors are manufactured by Air Liquide and, because of their exceptional qualities, they are also used by GEA.

Email Irina Meeuwissen to make an appointment for a no-obligation analysis of your refrigeration units.