The company says its in-line cryogenic crust freezing (which rapidly freezes a thin outer layer of the food) increases the yield of high-speed slicing operations. It also improves the quality and repeatability of slicing, Linde claims.
Mark DiMaggio, head of food & beverage for Linde in North America, told FoodProductionDaily.com the technology can help food producers, who want to increase production of sliced foods.
Success in slicing
“What we’re experiencing is a significant increase in slicing, not so much in consumer and retail, but from the introduction of sandwich shops,” he said.
“More and more QSRs [quick service restaurants / fast food outlets] are coming out with sandwiches that are bringing luncheon meats to consumers.
“When you have an increase in demand, the processor will look for production increases.”
Linde LLC (a member of the Linde Group) offers chilling, freezing and packaging technology to meet emerging needs in food processing. Cryogenic freezing uses food grade liquid carbon dioxide or liquid nitrogen to rapidly freeze a very thin layer of the product surface. This seals in moisture and fixes the shape of the food.
In-line cryogenic freezing is typically used with protein items such as delicatessen meats. It results in a better, repeatable slice, particularly when used with high speed slicers. In turn, this can reduce downtime on slicers and associated yield losses, says Linde.
The key is to match the crust-freezing process with the slicing operation, said DiMaggio. With the introduction of a crust freezer on a production line, Linde can work out the best crusting parameters.
Crust freezing is already in wide use for many protein products, said DiMaggio.
"However, many processors still employ the manual method of crust freezing logs and loaves on racks in blast freezers which require a significantly longer time than cryogenic in-line freezers," he added.
Using in-line cryogenic crust freezing to improve high-speed slicing operations is a more recent concept.
“With the advancements that Linde has made in this area, it has really provided the processors with the opportunity to adapt the technology in a slicing operation.
“Right now we’re exploring the success we’ve recently had in slicing, it’s still a relatively untapped market.”
Linde’s cryogenic freezers are designed for use in hygienic food environments.
Protein items and bakery goods
Cryogenic crust freezing also has uses outside slicing lines, such as when a product needs to be packaged prior to going into a holding freezer or shipping.
The process can be used with protein items such as delicatessen logs, chicken breasts, pork and beef loins.
"Crust freezing maximizes yield for fully cooked and par-fried products and also marinated and glazed products," DiMaggio said.
It is also suitable for bakery and prepared goods such as artisan breads, bagels, rolls and dough.