Resource Efficient Innovations Database (REID)

New process extends shelf life of chilled foods and saves energy

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New process extends shelf life of chilled foods and saves energy
Research project develops a gentler heating process which achieves extended shelf life of chilled foods whilst reducing processing energy.
In Development – Further research is planned.

Resource efficiency (e.g. filling line efficiency), Shelf life extension

Product Categories

Relevant Materials
Not Applicable

Relevant Packaging Formats
Not Applicable

Supply Chain Phase
Filling, Processing


A UK research project has developed a new method for successfully enhancing the shelf life of chilled prepared foods whilst reducing the processing energy requirements.
The project gathered together a team of academics and industry experts with the aim to reduce the temperature at which food is heat treated to stop pathogen growth. Currently, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) requires a treatment of 90C for 10 minutes. The team set out to challenge this rule and have subsequently identified a new thermal process (using a gentler heating process) that can be applied to any fully cooked foods such as soups, sauces and prepared chilled meals. The process gives an improved shelf life, whilst retaining organoleptic qualities.
The research specifically targeted spore-forming pathogens, especially unsafe non-proteolytic Clostridium botulinum.
The £750,000 three-year project was funded by the Chilled Foods Association, Unilever, The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Biotechnology and Biological Research Council.
The content in this entry has been obtained from publicly available information sources only (e.g. press releases, website and trade press articles) and is subject to completion of a validation process with the technology supplier.

Potential Benefits

The process gives an improved shelf life, giving manufacturers longer to sell products which is likely to result in less waste arising in the supply chain and in the home.

Furthermore, the gentler heating process uses less energy during food processing.

Intellectual Property

The full results from this research will remain confidential until April 2014.

Consultant View

There are other approaches and technologies available which also seek to extend the shelf life of chilled foods. Readers interested in alternative approaches should make further searches of the REID database using combinations of filters and terms such as “shelf life extension”, “barrier”, “active packaging”, “modified atmosphere”, “controlled atmosphere”, “antimicrobial” and “scavengers”.

Contacts and Further Information

Chilled Food Association
PO Box 6434
NN15 5XT
Tel: +44(0)1536 514365

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