Effects of Cold Storage on the Nutritional Value of Supermarket Foods and Vegetables

Supermarket Foods and Vegetables

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Effects of cold storage on Supermarket foods and vegetables | MenuSano

Nowadays, all fruits and vegetables are available in every season in the supermarket due to the invention of cold storage. Not only fruits and vegetables, but perishable foods are also stored in the cold storage to increase their shelf-life and maintain the food quality.  But, maintenance of the proper temperature in the cold storage is an essential factor to prevent microbial growth in the food items and protection from food-borne illness. Thousands of Canadian get affected by food poisoning every year due to unsafe food storage. There are multiple symptoms associated with food poisoning, including nausea, vomiting, stomach-ache, diarrhea, persistent fever, headache and constipation. The onset of these symptoms can start immediately after eating the contaminated food items or they can appear after few hours of ingestion. Proper medical care can cure the condition, but it may become dangerous for young children, elderly people and pregnant women. Therefore, there is an emergent need of adequate medical attention to treat this condition immediately after the onset of infection.

Is Cold storage temperature maintenance essential for food value?

In general, maintaining palatability of food and avoidance of food poisoning are primary objectives for cold storage.  However, prevention of food-borne disease is not only the concern, research studies showed that there is a scope of alteration of the phytochemicals present in raw fruits and vegetables during cold storage. These essential phyto-nutrients improves our immunity due to their potent antioxidant property. Following are some evidential reports, which demonstrated the changes of phytochemicals and their activities due to cold storage:

  1. Researchers reported that the antioxidant activity and total phenolic content in potato are altered due to cold storage.
  2. Rapisarda et al. submitted study report has been published in a journal article, where it has been mentioned that anthocyanins, flavanones and hydroxycinnamic acids present in oranges and the antioxidant property of oranges are increased by storing at 6°C for 65 days; but the vitamin C content becomes less.
  3. Researchers also found broccoli stored at 1°C for 28 has a rapid reduction of total antioxidant activity, ascorbic acid and total phenolic compounds contents.
  4. Certain small fruits like raspberries, strawberries, cherries, sour cherries and red currants stored at 4°C, exhibited mild enhancement of antioxidant activity in comparison with at 25°C.
  5. Proper cold storage temperature is also essential for blueberries. Blueberries industries are rapidly growing in Canada and other states in the U.S.A. It has been noticed that micro-structural changes occurred due to rapid freezing, which leads to ice crystals formation just beneath the skin of berries and causes sufficient structural damage, including moisture migration, cell shrinkage, and compromised anthocyanin content in the fruit cells. These type of changes is also significant in frozen peas.
  6. Cold storage temperature can also affect juice content, fruit firmness, weight loss, reduction of pulp content, decrease of soluble nutrients rate, pH, changes in the pigmentation like internal browning, bleaching, skin/peel darkening, changes in texture, increased rates of electrolyte leakage, surface lesions, failure to ripen and other quality  parameters.
  7. In the supermarket, cut fruits and vegetables are also available to make our life easy. These products also requires some storage specifications. The desirable temperature for most of the fresh-cut products is 00 C. But practically, it has been found that during shipment of these types of products, the temperature can vary from 5 to 100 C. 
  8. Not only temperature, duration of cold storage is also an important factor to maintain the food quality. It has been observed that fresh-cut tomatoes stored at 00 C over 14 days, loss their overall quality, enhancement of microbial load, and also declined sensorial quality.

Optimum Refrigeration and Freezing temperature and duration requirement for different perishable food items Canadian Government declared the refrigeration times for safety, and the freezing times for quality of food items. If the food items can properly wrap and store, then it will be helpful to maintain food quality in longer period.

Food400F (40C) or lower temperature  in Refrigerator00F (-180C) or lower in Freezer
Fresh meat
Ground meat1 -2 days2- 3 months
Veal3 -4 days8- 12 months
Pork2 -4 days8- 12 months
Lamb2 -4 days8- 12 months
Beef2 -4 days10-12 months
Fresh Poultry
Chicken/Turkey – pieces2-3 days6 months
Chicken/Turkey – whole2-3 days1 year
Fresh fish
Shrimp, scallops, cooked shellfish1-2 days2-4 months
Shellfish, e.g. crab, clams, lobster etc12-24 hours2-4 months
Fatty fish, e.g. salmon etc.3-4 days2 months
Lean fish, e.g. flounder, cod etc.3-4 days6 months
Ham
Cooked ham3-4 days2-3 months
Canned ham6-9 monthsDon’t freeze
Bacon and sausages
Bacon1 week1 month
Pre-cooked sausage links or patties1 week1-2 months
Raw sausage1-2 days1-2 months
Hot dogs
Opened hotdogs1 week1-2 months
Un-opened hotdogs2 weeks1-2 months
Lunch meat and deli food
Opened lunch meat3-5 days1-2 months
Un-opened lunch meat2 weeks1-2 months
Deli or homemade salads3-5 daysDon’t freeze
Deli packaged lunch meat3-4 days2-3 months
Leftovers
Meat broth and gravy3-4 days4-6 months
Cooked poultry and fish3-4 days4-6 months
Soups2-3 days4 months
Cooked meat, stews, egg or vegetable dishes3-4 days2-3 months
Frozen dinners
Keep frozen until ready to cook 3-4 months
Eggs
Hard-cooked1 weekDoesn’t freeze well
Fresh out of shell2-4 days4 months
Fresh in shell3-4 weeksDon’t freeze
Egg substitutes opened3 daysDon’t freeze
Egg substitutes un-opened10 days1 year
Dairy products
Un-opened milkBest before date6 weeks
Un-opened cottage cheeseBest before dateDoesn’t freeze well
Un-opened yogurtBest before date1-2 months
Un-opened unsalted butter8 weeks3 months
Un-opened salted butter8 weeks1 year
Opened milk3 daysDon’t freeze
Opened yogurt3 daysDon’t freeze
Opened butter3 weeksDon’t freeze
Opened cottage cheese3 weeksDon’t freeze
Processed cheese5 months3 months
Hard cheese10 months1 year
Firm cheese5 weeks3 months
Semi-soft cheese2-3 weeks8 weeks
Soft cheese1 weekDoesn’t freeze well
Vegetables
Leaf lettuce3-7 daysDon’t freeze
Iceberg lettuce1-2 weeksDon’t freeze
Beans green or waxed5 days8 months
Celery2 weeks10-12 months
Carrots2 weeks10-12 months
TomatoesDon’t refrigerate2 months
Summer squash1 week10-12 months
Winter squash2 weeks10-12 months
Spinach2-4 weeks10-12 months

Tips to maintain the optimum food value in cold storage food items

Apart from the staff at the supermarket or cold chain service providers, every individual who purchase, store and prepare foods is equally responsible to maintain food value.  Following are some tips to maintain the food value at home and also in food-service industries:

  1. Purchase frozen or cold products at the end of the shopping.
  2. Maintain optimum temperature at the refrigerator (40°F) and freezer (0°F) before storing food items to avoid microbial contamination.
  3. After reaching your destination, all the perishable items, especially raw meat, fish, poultry items and seafood should be stored in refrigerator or in freezer as early as possible.
  4. Raw meat, fish, poultry, and seafood should be packed properly in the storing container or plastic bags. Then place them on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator to avoid dripping of raw juices onto other foods.
  5. Separate storage is essential for raw meat, poultry, fish and seafood in the cold storage. Different storing containers can be used for multiple storage.
  6. All pre-cut fruits and vegetables, ready to eat items, fresh fruits, and vegetables are required to refrigerate immediately after reaching to your destination.
  7. Select undamaged fruits and vegetables. Carefully observe the color and natural flavor of fruits and vegetables, which indicate the quality of the item.
  8. Check the expiry date or “best before” date for packed food items.

Conclusion

Health is wealth, nutritional value of food plays an important our in our well being. MenuSano aims to educate our customers and audience about the importance of nutritious and healthy eating. Our nutrition analysis software is being used by many leading restaurants, hospitals and health conscious individuals. It is economical and delivers exceptional value of your money. We are committed to your well being and better health.

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