Walk In Cold Rooms: Fact verus Fiction Chapter 2

A further little-known fact among food professionals (including food safety auditors) is that whilst storing fresh produce at the correct ambient temperature (per category of produce) is of paramount importance in food safety terms, the latter is not the only parameter that should be monitored and recorded (outside of surface swapping and contamination detection).

The facts are:

  • Fresh produce (fruit & vegetables) comprises 90% water pre-harvest.
  • Fresh produce (fruit & vegetables) produces ethylene gas whilst in the soil to promote growth.
  • Post-harvest fresh produce in cold storage continues to produce ethylene gas
  • Fresh produce that is sensitive to ethylene gas will ‘ripen’ far quicker than non-sensitive produce

Fiction dictates that:

  • Fresh produce stored at the correct ambient temperature is all that is required to ensure quality retention
  • Storing ethylene-sensitive fresh produce together with ethylene-absorbing produce in cold storage is OK

Reality dictates that:

  • Fresh produce requires a constant 90% relative humidity in cold storage to retain colour, weight & texture
  • Ethylene gas should be removed from fresh produce cold storage facilities to retain qualitative condition

To avoid fresh produce degradation in cold storage; serve safe and delicious food platters; make patrons happy; and make money, food professionals need to have a critical look into how they store their fresh produce in cold storage.

For valuable information on how to achieve a perfect cold storage environment for fresh produce go to https://polarafrica.co.za/fresh-produce-humidity-ethylene-control/