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Higher temps means lower costs

24 May 2024
Higher temps means lower costs

The cost of getting meat products to the standard -18C freezing temperature – and keeping them there – is high. AMPC is currently investigating the implications of lifting the freezing temperature to -12C to reduce energy consumption while maintaining our world leading food quality and safety standards.

AMPC Program Manager Ann McDonald says there are cost and environmental benefits thanks to reduced energy usage, and -12C has already been demonstrated to provide good shelf life for frozen meats, but many markets require a -18C temperature.

“We have set out to understand the positions of stakeholders in the meat supply chain, especially regulators and international government and semi-government standard setting bodies, to determine whether change from the conventional storage temperature is feasible. The financial and environmental benefits will be weighed against the feasibility and actions required to achieve change.”
 Meat & Livestock Australia conducted a study to establish the practical shelf life of frozen beef and lamb, such as would be exported from Australia. 

“The results at -12°C demonstrated no meaningful differences in quality and no food safety hazards were detected,” Ann says.

The cost savings for industry could be very significant: up to 20 per cent less to freeze product to -12C and about 60 per cent less for ongoing warehouse storage costs. The costs to maintain temperature during shipping could fall by about 30 per cent.

There is already some scope in the regulations to store some product at -12C, though it rarely happens.

“The current Codex Alimentarius Code of Practice recommends distribution of quick-frozen foods should maintain a temperature of -18°C but permits competent authorities to allow -12°C during transport, with the product temperature reduced to -18°C as soon as possible. This has not typically been common practice, but some large international frozen food producers have recently announced an intention to store some of their products at -12°C,” Ann says.

“From this investigative phase our next step would be to develop a scientific paper and submission to regulators and others along the supply chain to have the change agreed. The challenge will be to reach consensus across stakeholder groups but there is potential for significant savings in energy costs if this can be achieved.”

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