Consumers are increasingly ordering meat or fish online, directly from the butcher or fishery. Due to the short supply chain, this provides consumers with high-quality meat at a low price – and they don’t have to leave the house for that! Are you a butcher or fisherman, and would you like to deliver your products directly to the end consumer via a webshop, or are you already doing this? In this article we give you all the tools to ensure that your products arrive fresh at the customer’s house!
3 different types of spoilage and how to slow them down
Three types of spoilage can be distinguished when we talk about food spoilage. The best known is biological spoilage, but chemical spoilage and physical spoilage can also be disastrous for guaranteeing the quality of your meat and fish products. Things to take into account as a seller, but certainly also as a consumer at home!
- Biological spoilage. This type of spoilage occurs in everything that lives, grows and matures – including fish and meat. Biological spoilage is caused by the multiplication of micro-organisms such as bacteria, yeasts and viruses. You can slow down this type of spoilage by ensuring a good cold chain: by cooling your fish and meat, you already enormously slow down the growth of micro-organisms. Freezing stops the growth of most micro-organisms, although a few species are known for even continuing to grow far below zero degrees Celsius – albeit at a much slower rate.
- Chemical spoilage. In meat and fish, for example, we see chemical spoilage in the form of fat oxidation. This creates rancidity, which releases unpleasant odors and flavours, loses nutritional value and breaks down vitamins. Not desirable, of course: you want your meat and fish products to retain nutritional value, quality, smell and, above all, taste. The extent to which fat oxidation occurs depends on fatty acid composition, oxygen, light, temperature and water activity. With good packaging you can therefore already overcome a large part of these risk factors!
- Physical spoilage. You can sense this type of spoilage: you can feel, smell, taste or see it. Think of a changing color, structure or smell. It deteriorates faster with too much (day) light and too high a storage temperature – but can also occur when the cells in meat or fish freeze to pieces and dehydrate. Physical decay in itself is not harmful to health (only in combination with chemical spoilage) but can be at the expense of quality.
Safeguard the cold chain during food transport of frozen meat and fish
To slow down spoilage (because unfortunately it can’t be completely stopped), it is important to properly protect fish and meat products by proper packaging that protects the food against light, heat, moisture and oxygen. This way the fish and meat are not only safe to consume, but also remain very tasty.
Coolpack offers freezer en super gelpacks freezer plates and super gel packs at -21 °C, -18 °C and -16 °C, among others, which enable frozen transport on a small and large scale. Whether you work with or without return flow: we have a suitable solution. By adding the freezing agents to the packaging, your fish and meat products remain protected against external temperature influences – even if they have to be transferred several times during transport from A to B in other vehicles or storage areas.
Transporting chilled fish and meat
Do you not freeze your fish and meat products, but do you want to transport them chilled? Coolpack gel packs are a frequently used solution. These are food safe, non toxic and keep your products cool at a temperature of 0-8 °C.
Tips for sending frozen fish and meat frozen
- Use a well-insulated packing box. To cool or freeze properly, insulation is at least as important as adding gel packs, cooling or freezing elements. So choose packaging with a high insulation capacity. Within the fish and meat industry, we notice that polystyrene white tempex boxes (also known as EPS boxes) are a popular option. Coolpack supplies these with different wall thicknesses to achieve the required insulation capacity.
- Catch moisture with absorption mats. Melt water can be released during chilled and frozen transport. To prevent spoilage, it is important that your fish and meat products remain dry. That is why we recommend the use of absorption mats to absorb moisture that arises during transport. These are available in different sizes with different absorption capacity and we can deliver them quickly.
- Think about sustainability. Many words have been spoken and texts have been written about the need to become more sustainable. We are therefore happy to support you in making a sustainable choice within your application. For example, we offer the EcoCoolBox, a fully paper-based, recyclable paper insulation box – which won the NL Packaging Award for good reason. For frozen transport there is the EcoFreezeBox, with extra high insulation capacity. But even better than recycling is reusing: think about whether your logistics processes contain return flows or how you could implement this. Instead of gel packs and EPS boxes, you can opt for freezer plates or cooling plates and EPP cool boxes, which you can reuse many times. A nice option if the packaging materials come back to you or remain in your possession. Did you know that Mission Reuse, commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, published their research at the beginning of this year into what is needed to set up return logistics and scale up the use of reusable packaging in the Netherlands? The publication can be found here (in English).
Defrost responsibly to ensure quality and food safety
In addition to proper freezing, proper defrosting is also crucial in guaranteeing quality. Fish and meat are relatively sensitive to bacterial growth, and when exposed to higher temperatures (>4 °C), bacteria can multiply very quickly.
Our advice: put the frozen meat and fish in the refrigerator at around 3-4 degrees. Although this takes a lot longer than defrosing at room temperature, you keep the quality and food safety of fish and meat up to standard. Less perishable goods such as bread, fruit and vegetables can be defrosted at room temperature without risks.
Want to know more?
Would you like to know more about the possibilities of optimally guaranteeing your cold chain by using chilled and frozen packaging? Feel free to contact us for answers to all your questions or request a quote.