Cold Room Storage
Cold room storage is essential for any business involved in catering or food supply, to keep produce fresh, minimise waste and fulfil food safety legislation. Cold room storage is also required for many types of non-edible goods such as medical, chemical or other laboratory supplies, as well as plant and flower crops. It’s vital to know which stocks require to be held at which temperatures and to provide cold room storage appropriate to each type of stock.
This article provides an overview of the main types of food and non-food stocks requiring cold room storage, with guideline temperatures for each. This will enable you to select the correct product from the Porkka refrigeration range.
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Fresh fish has particularly strict storage requirements due to its potential for fast deterioration and risk of rapid bacterial growth. The main requirements involve keeping it at close to frozen temperatures, ideally -2C, and keeping it physically separate to all other types of food.
Fresh fish supplied commercially will have been kept “on ice” from the time it was caught until it is delivered to your premises. Locally produced fish may be surrounded by actual ice, while fish which has been imported or travelled longer distances will have been kept cold using alternatives such as gel packs or coolers. Upon arrival, it needs to be immediately placed into cold room storage at the correct temperature until is to be used.
In terms of your cold room storage requirements, this means you need a cabinet or room which is maintained at -2C which equates to Porkka’s Medium temperature refrigeration rooms/cabinets.
To avoid contamination, the fish will require its own dedicated space to prevent contact with any other produce. This may be implemented by having a dedicated fish cabinet or cold room, or self-contained storage area within a general cold room. The exact option chosen will depend on the overall volume and mix of other foods to be stored. Porkka can advise you of the most suitable option(s) for your circumstances upon request.
If you intend to display the fish before it is sold or cooked, you will also require a commercial ice making or flaking machine to make sufficient quantities of fresh ice.
Fresh meat of all kinds needs strict temperature control to ensure maximum longevity as well as meeting food safety requirements. The ideal temperature for storage of vacuum packed fresh meat is -2C, the same as for fish. This equates to Porkka’s Medium temperature units.
But if you intend to hang meat for several days – e.g. to mature it – the temperature needs to be lower, -5C, which will require a different temperature zone to be maintained as part of your cold storage. This -5C temperature is not to be confused with the storage of frozen meat, which needs to be stored at -18C or below.
As well as maintaining the proper temperature, your cold room storage also needs to allow good air circulation around the produce. Lack of air circulation can lead to unintended “warm spots”, especially if the meat was not at the intended temperature when it entered the refrigeration area. This means that you need sufficient storage space so that meat products are not packed in close together. For large joints or carcasses, hanging rails provide the necessary air circulation.
Fresh meat also needs to be kept away from other produce, especially any produce which is not going to be cooked again prior to use, such as chilled foods, salads, vegetables and fruit.
Even if most of your stored meat is frozen, it needs to be thawed out prior to use in a slow, controlled way, both to ensure quality and safety. You will therefore need a meat cold storage area where frozen meat can be safely thawed. A Porkka combi cold room could be the perfect way to manage the safe thawing of frozen meat.
Fruit & Vegetables
While fruit and vegetables are generally considered to be a single type of stock when it comes to cold room storage, different types of fruit and vegetables in fact require different temperatures for optimum longevity.
Most fruit and vegetables require a temperature between 0-4C, which would be ideally suited to one of Porkka’s Chiller units which can be set to run between 2 and 5C.
However there are a significant number of varieties which could be subject to chill damage at this temperature range, which can result in cell damage and/or spoiling the appearance of the produce. This group includes cucumber, aubergine, tomatoes, pumpkin, avocado, grapefruit, melons, peppers and potatoes, which ideally need to be stored at temperatures of 8C or higher.
This range of temperatures equates to Porkka’s Chiller rooms which can be set between 2 and 12C. However, you may need multiple chill zones if you store a wide variety of soft and hard fruit, vegetables and salad produce. If you only have one temperature zone available you will get most use out of a standard Chiller, set somewhere in the middle of the 2 to 12 range.
If you have sufficient volume to store it may make sense to have multiple cold rooms, or perhaps a combi room, to provide two temperature zones for different types of fruit and vegetables.
Correct temperature control of medicines is vital to ensure the longevity and the effectiveness of the medicines. Cold storage of medicines therefore needs to be accurate and very even.
Where medicines are being accessed for fairly immediate use, such as in a dispensing pharmacy or doctor’s surgery, a chiller cabinet may be acceptable (see our Medi Line range for specialist medical refrigeration). But frequent opening and closing of the cabinet door causes ingress of warm air directly onto the product, so for long term storage a cold room arrangement will provide better temperature control than a cabinet.
Some medicines require to be kept chilled between 2 and 5C (equating to a Porkka chiller unit), while others require freezing between -18 and -22C (equating to a Porkka freezer unit).
If you require both, and/or you need to regularly bring frozen supplies up to chill temperature in a controlled way, a Porkka combi room may suit your needs.
Flowers suffer from similar longevity problems to fruit and vegetables and chilling can greatly extend the life of harvested flowers during transit and in store. Flowers are chilled at around 12C, equating to Porkka’s chiller room range (2 to 12C).
Growers will typically get flowers into cold storage as soon as possible after harvesting, and the temperature will typically be maintained during transit and by the wholesaler, and often also by the end retailer. The price of flowers makes it increasingly worthwhile to even small high street florists to be able to increase the life of their stock, since smaller retailers cannot necessarily guarantee a fast throughput.
Commercial storage of ice cream presents particular problems in terms of temperature control. The biggest threat to improperly stored ice cream is uncontrolled fluctuations in temperature which can result in the formation of ice crystals within the ice cream (known as “iciness”). If the ice crystals become large enough they can noticeably affect the texture of the product resulting in customer dissatisfaction. Properly stored ice cream can keep up to a year, while inadequate storage can mean the product going off within a couple of weeks.
So ice cream needs to be stored at a constant and very low temperature down to -24C. This will generally preclude a cabinet freezer option, especially if the cabinet is accessed frequently for other produce, since the frequent door opening will result in uneven temperatures. A cold room with good temperature control is therefore the most ideal environment for long term storage of ice cream. The appropriate Porkka product would be a freezer room with temperature range between -18 and -24C.