Published in the International Journal of Food Microbiology, the article by Douglas Archer concluded that more research could help create a freezing battle plan to aid public health and help the food industry to improve on various aspects of food safety.
"It is clear that under certain conditions, freezing can be lethal for certain foodborne pathogens. It also seems clear that there are researchable areas that might lead to increased use of freezing as a barrier to foodborne pathogens," Archer wrote in the report. "It seems that freezing may be an underutilised food safety technology that can be enhanced to become a major hurdle for pathogen survival."
Archer is a past deputy director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition of the US Food and Drug Administration. Currently, he is a professor in the Food Science and Human Nutrition Department of the University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.
The article notes the positive food safety track record of frozen food products, and synthesises existing research on the effects of freezing on micro-organisms. The significance of the paper is the identification of variables that could be researched to maximise freezing as a food safety technology. These variables include the temperatures and rates at which foods are frozen, storage times and temperatures, and the chemical makeup of the foods. Archer also notes the characteristics of specific micro-organisms, and their unique interactions with various foods.
"Frozen foods have earned a reputation for safety. Advanced research could take this reputation for safety to a new level of reliability that redefines the possibilities of food safety. This is an opportunity and a call to action for the scientific community," said Leslie G. Sarasin, president and chief executive officer of the American Frozen Food Institute, a national trade association that promotes and represents the interests of all segments of the frozen food industry.
Archer's paper addressed current research, and areas of future research, on microorganisms including, Cryptosporidium, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella, Campylobacter and E. coli O157:H7, among others.