What Is an Optimal Temperature for Frozen Foods?
In a new paper published in Food and Chemical Toxicology, researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University at Buffalo in New York found that freezing foods in an optimal temperature will significantly reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses.
“In our study, frozen food consumption was found to increase the risk for E. coli and salmonella,” says senior author, Rachel Leveille, Ph.
D., who has been a postdoctoral researcher at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service since 2009.
The researchers found that frozen foods consumed at a frozen-food temperature were more likely to contain high levels of certain bacteria, particularly Campylobacter, compared to those consumed at room temperature.
Campylobs cause foodborne illness in humans by producing toxins that cause illness in the host.
Leveile and her colleagues compared frozen foods eaten at a typical freezer temperature with those eaten in a traditional freezer.
Frozen foods consumed in the traditional freezer had higher levels of Salmonella and E.coli compared to frozen foods in the ideal freezer.
They also found that those with high salmonellosis rates had significantly lower levels of the bacteria compared to their non-frozen counterparts.
“This study suggests that the optimal temperature for food preservation, even in the most basic of ways, can help protect us from foodborne outbreaks,” says Leveine.
Leveslie and her co-authors hypothesize that this temperature may help protect against contamination by bacteria from foods that have been stored longer than they should have.
The optimal temperature is a key variable that has been used in food safety analyses, but the researchers also discovered that freezing food at different temperatures may help to maintain an optimal amount of salmonerels.
This may help prevent the spread of infections from contaminated food, such as bread that has sat for too long at room temperatures.
“We found that the temperature at which food is stored is the critical factor for the safety of food, and this may have implications for how people manage food safety,” says lead author Dr. Michael Stott, Ph, a research scientist in Levele’s lab.
“A frozen food can be kept in a freezer for up to one year at a temperature that is optimal for salmoneres, but at higher temperatures, the risk is greater.”
The researchers hope their findings will help people who manage food storage and safety understand the importance of their own personal temperature.
“Food safety experts are beginning to understand the impact of different temperatures, and they have to be cautious with this kind of information,” says Stott.
Leveil notes that the research also suggests that a higher amount of bacteria can be found in foods that are stored at a lower temperature, but that more research is needed to establish the impact. “
At the same time, these results suggest that there is no need to freeze foods at the temperature of the refrigerator, because frozen foods are stored in a refrigerator at a low temperature.”
Leveil notes that the research also suggests that a higher amount of bacteria can be found in foods that are stored at a lower temperature, but that more research is needed to establish the impact.
“If you are storing foods at an optimal freezer, it may be helpful to take steps to protect against the growth of these pathogens,” she says.