The Healthier Face of Frozen
Frozen food? That’ll be deep fried then. Chips and onion rings are catering mainstays but there is much more to frozen. Thanks to frozen fruit, vegetables, fish, and now gluten-free bread and desserts, frozen food can be tasty and good for your customers.
After an over indulgent Christmas, top of many customers’ New Year resolutions will be to lose weight, or at least cut back the calories and eat more healthy foods. With new research proving that some frozen products actually have more nutritional value than fresh, Take Stock dispels some frozen myths to help your business pile on the right sort of pounds.
Benefits of frozen
Frozen foods have fewer preservatives, lock in more nutrients, generate less food waste and help manage portion control. And, unlike their raw counterparts, products frozen immediately after catching or harvesting retain their freshness, and goodness, longer, as fresh foods continue to degrade in cold storage.
Proof’s in the pudding
Recent scientific research has dispelled the myth that all fresh food is nutritionally better than frozen. Two independent scientific studies on compounds in fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables have proven that frozen products can be nutritionally comparable to fresh – and in some cases actually contain a higher level of antioxidants. The British Frozen Food Federation (BFFF) has been working with scientists at Leatherhead Food Research and the University of Chester who investigated the content of the most commonly bought supermarket fruit and vegetables and compared antioxidant levels between fresh and frozen. The evidence revealed that in 66% of cases, frozen fruit and vegetables had higher nutritional levels of antioxidant-type compounds compared to fresh products on day three of storage. The results showed that the Vitamin C content in carrots, green beans, blueberries, Brussel sprouts and broccoli was higher in frozen than in fresh.
“As we know, fast and highly organised methods of ‘harvest-to-freeze’ have evolved with the express purpose of minimising nutrient losses,” explains Brian Young, director-general, BFFF. “In contrast, ‘fresh’ food has been shown to spend up to a month in the chain of producers, wholesalers and retailers before consumers have access to store and prepare them. During this time we know that product deterioration takes place – to the extent that they can have lower
nutritional value than their frozen equivalent.”
Watch the scales to boost sales
According to a survey by the National Restaurant Association, 71% of customers are trying to eat healthier at restaurants than they did two years ago. Customers want healthier menu options and more information about each dish to help make them make calorie-controlled choices. This can be a challenge for chefs and caterers when it comes to organising stock and planning menus. Stocking up on frozen ingredients and low-calorie meal options can be a huge help
to busy establishments. “The huge ranges of frozen healthy options, such as fruit mixes for desserts and smoothies, vegetable soup mixes and a variety of rice, fish and pasta options help to make it easier for a foodservice operator to provide a range of healthier options to keep diners interested as they look to reduce their waistlines,” says Brian Young.
“Frozen food can help to control portion size, reduce food waste and it requires significantly less preparation than its fresh or chilled counterpart.”
Henson Foods, which supplies restaurants, casual dining and wholesalers throughout the UK, has a range of frozen items better suited to a healthier diet. “We sell a lot of frozen berries for those who want to make a fruit field smoothie ideal for breakfast or lunch,” says Julian Burgess, Hensons’ sales director. “For those on a diet who usually like something of
substance then our tuna steaks are a healthier alternative than a pie or fish in batter.” Ardo UK, supplier of frozen fruit and vegetables now offers products once deemed ‘unfreezable’ such as avocado, banana and cucumber. They have also perfected a way of freezing spinach leaves individually to ensure taste and texture.