Food Spoilage in Walk-in Cold Rooms

Food Spoilage in Walk-in Cold Rooms

Walk-in cold rooms in restaurants, convention centres, wedding venues, hotels, boarding schools, butcheries, bakeries, superettes, takeouts, etc typically experience high volumes of food spoilage and/or loss of qualitative condition.

1. Facts versus Fiction

Fruit, vegetables, and all food produce (whether fresh or prepared) naturally contain between 85% and 90% water.

When food produce is stored in cold storage at a relative humidity of less than 78%:

  • fruit & veg will turn limp, shrink, and lose colour and weight
  • fresh and prepared food dishes will dry out
  • cakes and pastry will also dry out and icing will crack
  • dairy products like cheese will harden around the edges
  • fresh meat will shrink, lose blood and weight
  • fresh fish will begin to  ‘curl over’

This loss in the qualitative condition of the produce is directly reflected in a shortened shelf life and wastage – with a negative impact on the bottom line of the business.

2. Impact of Ethylene Gas

Simultaneously, fruit and vegetables naturally produce ethylene gas during their growth phase but when harvested they continue to produce the gas.

Depending on the type of fruit/veg they are either ethylene sensitive or they are not – the former will ripen far quicker because of ethylene gas presence wherever they are stored. The latter also leads directly to a loss in qualitative condition and shortened shelf-life.

3. Impact of Airborne Bacteria

Airborne bacteria also reduce the shelf life of perishable food stocks in cold storage if not controlled.

4. Impact of Evaporator Fans

Refrigeration evaporator fans naturally extract moisture from the internal air of the cold room, during the chilling/cooling process, which leads to lower relative humidity levels within the cold room and more so when the doors are kept closed for hours during non-work shifts when the same air is continuously being re-circulated with ever-diminishing levels of humidity resulting.

Conversely, during peak work shifts “fresh air” enters the cold room via the continuous opening and closing of doors which then balances the RH in the cold room but is not sufficient to reach permanent stable levels 24/7. External intervention is therefore required to stabilize the humidity.

5. Perfect Storage Solutions

The near-perfect cold storage condition that will produce the best cold chain HACCP protocol result in cold rooms will be to store food products consistently as close to 80% humidity as possible and to have the ethylene gas and airborne bacteria continuously removed. The foregoing is more effective if environmentally friendly solutions are utilized.

Polar Africa has since 2008 offered the market the perfect solution/s for storing fresh produce in cold storage with minimal loss of qualitative condition and/or wastage.

Go to for further information.

Also see slider [gview file=””]