Recent research carried out by the British Frozen Food Federation found that 95% of chefs and caterers are now stocking and using frozen ingredients, and 85% are using frozen food, at least weekly. There has been a long standing debate about fresh versus frozen will this survey change the attitudes of caterers?
The ‘Perception and Usage of Frozen Food survey 2014’ found that 85% of chefs and caterers believe that frozen foods are at the peak of their quality, a 16% increase since 2011.
The survey also found that 92% of chefs are using frozen food on a weekly basis, at least, for a variety of reasons such as cost and convenience. Additionally, 89% of these cost sectors caterers agreed that frozen food locks in the freshness for a better tasting menu.
In Hospital catering, chefs are faced with challenges around the convenience, cost and nutrition of the meals they are preparing. In a busy kitchen with multiple mealtimes catering to a wide range of needs, ease of preparation is vital, and using frozen ingredients can reduce preparation time, and help reduce expensive waste generation. With chefs preparing hundreds of meals each day for staff, patients and visitors alike this is a very important factor within hospital catering, as well as being able to buy ingredients in bulk.
If only fresh ingredients are brought, those that are not used before they go off are wasted, whereas using frozen ingredients means only those necessary for that particular day have to be thawed and used and the rest can stay frozen until required.
The survey also food that eight in ten caters believed that frozen food offered year round availability of seasonal product, while seven in ten claimed that frozen ingredients offered them the optimum price stability and competitiveness.
According to the Department of Health’s ‘Sustainable food: A guide for Hospitals’:
- with frozen food there is no need for artificial preservatives and because products can be harvested and frozen at the peak of their quality, the freshness and nutritional value to be locked in
- owing to the seasonability of crops and ingredients, frozen food can offer greater flexibility and choice then fresh food, and
- hospitals should strike a balance between fresh and frozen ingredients to minimise their environmental footprint (energy required in the freezing of produce) and reduce wastage, while ensuring a balanced menu