This project will explore the feasibility of super-cooling, to aid implementing such a process in the seafood processing and supply chain, which would result in reduced energy use and waste.
Chilled seafood is highly perishable with a short shelf-life. Historically fresh seafood has been kept “at the temperature of melting ice”, i.e., 0°C. It is known that the lower the temperature the longer the shelf-life. Traditionally it is believed that freezing limits how low chilled seafood can be held without quality changes. Super-chilling (partial freezing) offers advantages to shelf-life, but the formation of ice can damage quality. Unlike super-chilling, super-cooling, the physical phenomenon where a product can be cooled to below its freezing point without ice forming (freezing), has the potential to extend the high-quality shelf-life (HQSL) of chilled seafood without freezing the product.
This feasibility study has demonstrated that a range of seafoods show a propensity for super-cooling and that key seafoods (retail packed cod, haddock, salmon, and mackerel) can be stably kept in a super-cooled state at -2°C for up to 15 days and possibly longer. Thus, super-cooling of seafoods is technically feasible and potentially offers meaningful commercial benefits. The utilisation of super-cooling to extend HQSL would dramatically improve flexibility within the fresh seafood supply chain and reduce energy use and waste from harvest to retail. The development of commercially viable super-cooling will have a significant impact on the refrigeration market as a whole. Having demonstrated the principle, further studies are required to address the challenges of practically achieving and implementing super-cooling in the seafood supply chain.