The temperatures at which ice cream is produced, stored, and served are below freezing, and microbial growth is of no concern. Because the viability of many microorganisms is preserved by freezing, this treatment is not expected to be lethal for microorganisms. Freezing and frozen storage are detrimental to some microorganisms, and these effects are discussed later in this chapter. Although ice cream itself does not suffer direct microbial spoilage, several ingredients of ice cream are susceptible to spoilage, because they are held at temperatures suitable for microbial growth.
A major concern of the ice cream industry is the potential for frozen desserts to be carriers of pathogenic microorganisms and of microbial toxins. Sources of disease producers and methods of protecting consumers from them are important topics for discussion in this chapter.
Some frozen desserts, particularly frozen yogurt, depend on microbial growth to produce typical flavor and textural characteristics. Some of the bacteria used in yogurt fermentation are thought to provide health benefits and are called probiotics. The beans used to produce vanilla and chocolate flavors are fermented by microorganisms under controlled conditions.
This chapter describes and defines frozen desserts, considers their major ingredients and the potential contribution of those ingredients to the microflora of the finished product, describes processing of mixes, and explores the freezing, storage, distribution, and serving of frozen desserts. Finally, regulations and quality assurance are discussed.
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