Frozen Novelties

In the United States, frozen novelties consist of frozen ices (26%), ice cream sandwiches (16%), ice cream bars (12%), fruit or juice bars (10%), fudge bars (9%), ice cream cones (9%), and numerous other forms of single-serve frozen items. They differ from related products in multiserve containers primarily in the ways they are frozen, formed, and packaged. Some, particularly frozen ices, are frozen quiescently in refrigerated molds. Their maximum expansion in volume (overrun) is 10%. Others, especially ice cream bars on sticks, are first soft-frozen with air incorporated and then hardened in molds or are extruded in very stiffly frozen form onto conveyors that carry them through hardening tunnels. Ice cream may be extruded into the space between two cookies to form ice cream sandwiches. Many of the ice cream and frozen yogurt bars on-a-stick are dipped in chocolate or fruit-flavored coatings.

With novelty items the main microbiological considerations relate to cleanliness of equipment with which the novelties are formed or packaged. The typical plant runs continuously for many hours, and molds of the forming equipment are subjected to alternate cold and warm temperatures. Although there is little opportunity for microbial growth, contaminants from the environment are not likely to be killed during operation. This makes it important to maintain a high degree of sanitation within the area of freezing, forming, and packaging of novelties. It is highly important that airborne contaminants not be produced from dust or mists wherever novelties are exposed to open air (not enclosed by equipment or packages). Dry floor operations are recommended to avoid splash and creation of aerosols. Goff and Slade (1990) used a pilot scale wind tunnel, operated at -16 to -18°C, to demonstrate that L. monocytogenes could be transferred to frozen unpackaged ice cream via contaminated cold air.

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