A Decades-Long Fable
March is recognized nation-wide as Frozen Food Month, and while many restaurants, grocery stores and other food-related industries are already reaping the benefits of frozen food, there is still a lingering, decades-old narrative that frozen food is unhealthy. Our aim is to change that, and we’re doing it by breaking 5 myths that surround the words “frozen food”.
Myth 1: Frozen Foods contain preservatives
We wanted to start with one of the most widely spread ideas that frozen food contains preservatives, therefore all frozen food must be unhealthy. While some frozen foods certainly do contain preservatives (as do several fresh foods), to claim that all frozen foods contain preservatives is what is known as a hasty generalization, a logical fallacy in which a conclusion is drawn based on too small of a sample size. Frozen produce and frozen meals that contain preservatives do exist, but it is not the default for frozen foods, and all foods in the freezer section should not be lumped together under the “Foods Containing Preservatives” category.
The History Recap: Using cold to preserve food dates to prehistoric times when humans would store meats and produce under ice and snow in order to keep their food for several months. These methods passed on for thousands of years, but was not formally used as a commercial norm until the early 1900s with the rise of refrigeration. Introduce Individual Quick Freezing (or IQF) to the picture, and we have a whole industry changed!
The Science Recap: All foods contain enzymes, which are responsible for the ripening and eventual rotting of produce, meats and other foods. When introduced to freezing temperatures, these enzymes become inactivated, essentially “freezing” time and allowing these foods to stay in the state they were in at the time of freezing. The frozen temperatures also make the moisture in food unavailable to microorganisms, preventing them from growing. The combination of inactivated enzymes and stunted microorganisms results in the preservation of food.
Tropical Shrimp Salad with Pure & Simple® Plantain Rounds
Industry Takeaway: Feel good about being transparent with your customers. Offering frozen, ready-to-heat foods with no preservatives creates loyal, repeat customers.
Myth 2: Frozen Foods are high in sodium, cholesterol and sugars
Just like with preservatives, there are certainly frozen foods and meals that add all kinds of additives to their packaged food, just like regular room-temperature or refrigerated prepared meals and snacks. However, frozen foods do not need added sugars, fats and sodium by default. In fact, because freezing is actually a natural preservative (see last point), it actually reduces the need to use salt as a means of preservation.
Take a look at the nutritional label of Tio Jorge® Yuca Puffs below:
Industry Takeaway: Meet customers’ demands with trend-forward, nutritious food.
Myth 3: Frozen Foods are more expensive
It is sometimes believed that because frozen food is packaged, it is more expensive to the consumer. When in fact, freezing foods like fresh produce is a huge wallet-saver. Due to the efficiency in production, lower transportation costs because of compacted food and low spoilage due to short transportation time between harvesting and processing, these savings in production are passed downto the end consumer, making frozen food a no brainer for those looking to save money.
How many times have you bought fresh produce and ended up throwing it away because it ripened and rotted faster than your customers could consume it?
A study conducted by Walden University found that 10% of food purchased by restaurants never gets to consumers. Therefore, on average, a restaurant that spends $2,500/month on food is sending $250/month, or $3,000/year down the drain, literally.
If the COVID-19 pandemic taught food-related businesses anything, it is that nothing is certain in these economical times. Pandemic or no pandemic, buying and storing frozen food is at least one assurance in a state of fluctuation and uncertainty for businesses.
By buying frozen, companies can save thousands upon thousands of dollars per year. With a long shelf-life, frozen food is the perfect use-only-what-you-need approach and can save businesses a whole lot of money in the long run.
Burgers with Tio Jorge® Boniato Fries
Industry Takeaway: The seasonal yield of fresh fruits results in variable costs. Year-round availability provides consistent quality and pricing.
Myth 4: Frozen Foods don’t taste as good as Fresh Foods
As mentioned earlier, freezing is nature’s pause button. By halting the growth of microbacteria in food and deactivating its enzymes, the state of the fruit or vegetable when it is opened and consumed by the end customer is the same state at the time of freezing. Freezing at the peak of freshness preserves the taste and nutrient level that the food had at the time if freezing.
Meanwhile, fresh produce usually doesn’t get to the grocery stores until several days after picking, having been exposed to light and heat on the way to its final destination. So by the time it is on your plate, it is days old.
You might like: 3 Sweet Reasons to Choose Frozen Fruit over Fresh
Tio Jorge® Yuca Cheese Bites
Industry Takeaway: Feel confident with a consistent-tasting product.
Bonus: Frozen foods also limit the need for a ripening station in the kitchen. When used for fresh produce, these ripening stations may increase the chance of pests, resulting in risks for inspection violations.
Myth 5: Frozen Foods are bad for the environment
Finally, we are tackling the myth that frozen foods are bad for the environment. Frozen foods are, in fact, one of the most important tools in conquering food waste and climate change. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, food waste is “the single most common material landfilled and incinerated in the U.S., comprising 24 and 22 percent of landfilled and combusted municipal solid waste, respectively.”
Check out this infographic by the Environmental Protection Agency below:
Because shelf-life is increased, and frozen food tends to be more compact, you can buy in bulk, saving costs on packaging as well.
Industry Takeaway: Fresh foods tend to result in higher food waste volume. Frozen foods significantly decrease the amount of food waste in the kitchen., lowering environmental impact and overall food and labor costs.
A Shift in the Frozen Food Narrative
There is definitely a time and place for fresh foods. But to say that fresh foods are superior to frozen foods in every category is to completely disregard the environmental, economical and health advantages of frozen food. We need to end the narrative that frozen foods are bad and have something to hide; when in fact, moving forward, it may be one of the most important solutions to the environmental and financial crises that we have.
Partner With Us in the Frozen Food Solution
At MIC Food, we help chefs, restaurants, industrial kitchens, retail brands, delis, and others in the food industry rethink their menus and increase appeal among ethnic and mainstream consumers alike. We provide variety of frozen tropical fruits and vegetables that come peeled and cut, ready-to-heat and serve, saving you hours of prep time so you can focus on what matters the most: making every meal memorable.