Many of us like
to feel that the food we buy is 'fresh'. However, the term 'fresh'
when applied to food has a number of meanings. How many of us realize
when we see or hear the term 'farm' fresh eggs that the eggs could
be up to 4 weeks old? The quality of the eggs we get on our plates
depends not only on when they were laid but also on the conditions
under which they were kept after laying.'Dairy' fresh milk may be
up to 11 days old before we drink it and again its quality will depend
on the conditions under which it was kept. What is really meant by
'fresh fish' when it is sold far from the seal particularly when it
may have been frozen after being caught? How should the term 'fresh'
be interpreted when applied to bananas or other tropical fruits that
are sold in temperate regions? Would you consider bread, still steaming
from the oven,'fresh' if you knew that the flour used in its preparation
was 12 months old?
It is difficult
to define a meaning for 'fresh' that would be suitable for all foods.
The time from the production of the food until its consumption is
obviously important, but so also is the initial quality of the food
or ingredients used in its preparation, and the conditions under which
the item is kept until eaten. It is in the interests of both food
manufacturers and consumers that food is sold in the best possible
foods have some form of date marking to indicate that if consumed
within a particular time, the product should not have suffered any
significant loss of ‘fresh eating quality' or deteriorated to a point
where it is unfit for consumption. Of course, a loss of quality is
a subjective judgement, and will reflect not only the time the food
has been stored prior to eating but also the temperature and moisture
conditions under which the product has been kept. Temperature control
is very important in maximizing the life of a food. This is obvious
in the case of fruit, vegetables and frozen foods, but is also important
with canned and dried foods. The rate of deterioration of canned foods
greatly increases above 20°C and these foods should be stored under
cool, dry conditions.
and the law
do the different forms of date-marking mean?