Ice cream is a delicious treat but within its lip-smacking yumminess can lurk hidden health hazards.
We tend to think that things like meats and shellfish are among the main culprits when it comes to food poisoning, but the truth is most foods can be a danger to health if they are not stored properly.
And ice cream is no different.
Something as easily done as leaving a tub out of the fridge for a while can have consequences. Ice cream melts easily when it’s at room temperature, and that means it can become a breeding ground for bacteria.
It’s tempting to put melted ice cream back into the fridge to freeze again, especially if you are working in a commercial kitchen and there are large quantities. However, trying to save money could have much a more serious outcome.
In fact, it’s not only at home or in a restaurant kitchen that ice cream can become contaminated.
Indeed, producers need to be aware that bacteria can develop in their product during the manufacturing process or when it is shipped to the stores.
What is ice cream?
This might seem to have an obvious question, but ice cream is a complex confection that can be divided into a number of categories.
One thing manufacturers and makers of ice cream need to know is that legislation for storing ice cream can vary for different countries, so you need to check that out if you are exporting yours.
The fat content of ice cream is what is important when looking at which category it falls into.
For example, in some countries it must be more than nine per cent to qualify as ice cream, while a fat content of 12 to 13 per cent places it in the luxury (or premium) category.
Interestingly, the type of fat it contains is also relevant. Ice cream can contain either vegetable or animal fat. If it is the former, then in some countries it won’t be called ice cream. Instead, it will be labelled as non-dairy ice cream or frozen dessert.
Sorbet is another frozen confection that is akin to ice cream but isn’t classified as such because it doesn’t contain fat or milk solids non-fat (MSNF).
Other similar products include frozen yoghurt, while the development of extrusion technology has created a new category known as extruded water ice.
Basically, a water ice containing a whipping agent is pumped to the continuous freezer where air incorporation and a significant part of the freezing of water takes place in the continuous freezer cylinder before extrusion. The final product typically contains 20 to 30 per cent air, is very fresh, and clean in taste.
Why is it important to store ice cream?
The answer is simple; because it is made from the type of ingredients that can not only spoil but prove hazardous to health, resulting in serious illnesses like listeria.
The safe storage of all ice crem products, whether they are being served or stored in a freezer, needs to be a priority.
This is because bacteria love ice cream; they will multiply rapidly at a temperature of 4°C and 40°C – the ‘danger zone’ for perishable foodstuffs.
You may think that you can refreeze the tub and it will kill the bacteria because it is so cold, but you would be wrong and if you do this you or your customers may get very ill.
Five ice cream storing tips
Store ice cream in containers with airtight lids
Flat shallow containers work well as they have more surface area and that means the ice cream can freeze faster. This ensures a better, creamier texture. The airtight lid is essential as it prevents air getting into the ice cream making it go off.
- Ensure it is kept at the correct temperature
The optimum temperature is -18°C but freezers should never exceed -10°C.
Do not refreeze
As explained above ice cream should not be refrozen once it has melted. Not only will it result in changes to its texture from creamy and fluffy to dense and grainy but it could result in food poisoning.
Scoops and toppings
Don’t forget scoops and toppings, which should also be cleaned and stored in accordance with safety standards.
Make sure containers are food grade
Food grade ice cream containers are essential when it comes to storing ice cream. This means they will not contain toxic residues when they come into contact with foodstuffs. Most ice cream – apart from vegan varieties or sorbet – is made of milk, which needs to be kept well. Stored wrongly and it could lead to food poisoning.
Has my ice cream gone off?
The best ice cream container in the world will not work if your ice cream has gone bad. But how can you tell?
There’s something called freezer burn, which is where ice crystals form on the surface. You might be able to get away with a little freezer fuzz but when your ice cream gets more ice than cream it’s time to toss it.
As explained thawed and re-frozen ice cream can be a health hazard, something you don’t want people to eat either in a commercial or domestic setting.
Like anything that smells or tastes off, it should be thrown away immediately.
The best ice cream container will be made from a durable plastic like polypropylene, which is a flexible, strong and impact resistant material.
When looking for containers for ice cream, it is important that they have the ability to withstand the icy cold temperatures.
What gives polypropylene the edge over other kinds of plastics is that as well as being a durable, flexible material suitable for those cold temperatures, it is also lightweight and that makes it more cost effective when it comes to shipping.
The best container for storing ice cream will also be available in a wide variety of sizes and colours to give the consumer a variety of choice, and it will also carry all the guarantees that it is food safe.
Storing ice cream health and safety
Maintaining the cold chain is key to preserving the texture and flavours of ice cream and even more importantly, key to food safety. This is a difficult thing to do because of its seasonality.
When do we eat more ice cream? Exactly! The summertime! And the months when temperatures are hottest is when demand is high. To meet the demand, manufacturers churn out their product throughout the year and this has to be maintained at the right temperature and in the correct conditions.
Ideally, ice cream should be stored at 18°C and in the right kind of container.
Ice cream container solutions from Venturepak
At Venturepak our ice cream containers come in 2 litre, 2.5 litre, 4 litre and 5 litre sizes, however we also have other options, including round containers with lids.
Like our ice cream containers these are produced from high quality food grade polypropylene and conform to the highest standards of food safety and hygiene regulations.
Round containers with lids are available in 30ml, 50ml, 80ml. 120ml, 155ml, 180ml, 210ml, 225ml, 280ml, 318ml, 365ml, 480ml, 520ml, 565ml, 600ml, 1025ml, 1,180ml sizes
We have buckets with a lid which are also a very popular choice for storing ice cream as they are a great option for the job of storing as well as transporting ice cream.
Our round plastic buckets are available in the following sizes 870ml, 1litre, 1.5 litre, 2litre, 2.2 litre, 2.5 litre, 3 litre, 4litre, 5 litre 7.5, 10, 13 18.5, 20 while our rectangular buckets are available in 2 3 3.5 and our square buckets in 1litre, 5 litre, 8 litre ,10 litre and 18 litre
As you can see, we offer you plenty of options when it comes to choosing the best ice cream container for you.
At Venturepak, we are the experts on all things packaging so if you are looking for the best container for storing ice cream you can call on us for advice.
We understand that ice cream is a foodstuff that must be stored with care and that packaging needs to be able to cope with the demands toe ensure it is not spoilt.
We are also here to make sure that you get the most appealing packaging for your ice cream, so we are pleased to offer our mould labelling service so that containers can be designed to show off your product to the best advantage.
Why not get in touch with us to find out more?