Researchers at the University of California-Davis have developed a new type of cooling cube with the potential, they say, to transform the way cold storage is performed.
The advantages of plastic-free “jelly ice cubes” are that they do not melt, are compostable and antimicrobial, and can help prevent cross-contamination.
It can be easy for for food service operators and their employees not to think about the food safety implications of the way ice is used and handled. If they do not take the appropriate precautionary measures to properly handle food or if they do not follow the preventive maintenance measures necessary to ensure that their ice makers are clean, hygienic and operate safely, it may there are serious risks to food security. Researchers from UC-Davis has taken note of this concern.
Researchers began work on their coolant cubes after Luxin Wang, associate professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology, saw the amount of ice used in fish processing plants and the cross-contamination that water had of melt could spread between products or sewers.
“The amount of ice used by these fish processing sites is enormous,” said Wang. “We have to control the pathogens. “
Gang Sun, professor in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, highlighted other issues such as mold found in plastic ice packs used with school lunches for kids and commonly found in shipping packages.
The researchers’ jelly ice cubes offer an alternative that can potentially reduce water consumption and environmental impact. Jelly ice cubes also offer stable temperatures to reduce food spoilage and could be ideal for meal prep companies, transportation companies, and food producers who need to keep food fresh.
The research was published in the journal of the American Chemical Society, Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering.
The USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture provided a research grant of $ 485,000, and validation work began in January 2020.
Watch the video below for an overview of jelly ice cubes and how they are used.
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