The reason why frozen products are so popular is that they promise high, unspoilt quality of the product at the same time as optimal flexibility and longer shelf life. With the shock freezing technique, very fast freezing at extremely low temperatures, the nutrients, vitamins and secondary plant substances are preserved even in sensitive foods such as vegetables, fish, meet and fruit. As well as strict quality management requirements on the premises of the manufacturers (more about this can be found in our information about the cold chain and quality control), crucial criteria for this product quality are storage in the shop and transport as well as storage at the home of the consumer.
These points should be considered:
1. Buying frozen food
Keep your eyes open when buying frozen food! The chest freezers or upright freezers in food shops should be arranged tidily and look maintained. Fast-closing doors ensure limited temperature losses when individual frozen products are removed. Chest freezers frequently have a marking for the fill quantity – this should not be exceeded, otherwise the storage temperature of at least minus 18 degrees Celsius is not guaranteed. You should never buy packagings that are damaged – an uncontrolled supply of air or moisture causes freezer burn (reasons for and effects of freezer burn on frozen, sensitive foods).
Observe the expiry date on the packaging. The expiry date is a legal requirement and must be indicated in a way that is clearly visible. From the manufacturer’s perspective, it guarantees that the quality properties of the product will remain unchanged until this date. These include e.g. nutrition content, flavour, appearance or consistency. However, this is conditional upon compliance with the storage conditions designated for the product.
Select the frozen products only at the end of your shopping – this guarantees the shortest possible temperature fluctuations. Avoid shaking frozen products; delicate vegetable types and sensitive, think frozen foods can break and be damaged in this case.
The LOOKICE® control label was developed so that, when shopping, you can identify immediately whether the cold chain (i.e. the consistent freezing temperature from manufacture to retail) has been continuous. This temperature indicator also registers short-term fluctuations of the temperature directly on the frozen product and changes colour if the cold chain is interrupted for too long (and the quality endangered).
2. Transporting frozen food
Use a cool bag or cool box with enough cold packs. Place the frozen food close together, so that that the packaging is not damaged and the frozen products cool one another. Avoid detours and take your shopping home immediately. If adverse circumstances result in you having transported the frozen products for too long and at high outdoor temperatures, play it safe: if the frozen product has thawed, for example the packaging is already soft and the content no longer in original frozen condition, you should use or prepare the food immediately. This is because the microorganisms and bacteria contained in every food are sent into a “deep sleep” by freezing; as soon as the temperatures rise, these microorganisms become active again and begin the perishing process. A few basic rules on correct refreezing can be looked up here. If the frozen products have the LOOKICE® label, this gives you a clear indication: if the label is still blue then you can refreeze it harmlessly, but if the label is discoloured red then you should cook/use the product immediately.
3. Keeping and storing frozen food
Your freezer or your freezer compartment should be set to a minimum of minus 18 degrees Celsius and to a maximum of minus 21 degrees Celsius. The freezer you choose depends upon your requirements and your spatial possibilities. An upright freezer can be integrated into a kitchen openly and easily. Modern appliances generally have different compartments for optimal fast freezing and correct storage. A chest freezer offers more space but requires greater basic order, as the frozen food stored at the top should always be that which has been in the freezer for longest and which must therefore be used first. The freezer should be well filled but not overfilled and it should be defrosted regularly.
Incidentally: The frozen product loses nutrients and vitamins even in the freezer compartment or chest freezer. Around 15 percent of the vitamins contained in them have disappeared after approx. four months of storage, and 55 percent after a year. The same applies for frozen vegetables, fruit, meat and fish. It is therefore sensible to use the frozen products regularly – even if they last for longer.
If you want to freeze cooked, ready meals or even raw vegetables, meat and fish for yourself, read our tips on freezing and defrosting correctly.