Refrigeration or de-nitrification?

Experts shares that refrigeration leads to nutrient loss in the food subjected to fluctuations in the temperatures.
Refrigeration or de-nitrification?

HYDERABAD : Food refrigeration is an excellent way of improving the shelf life of food but on the other hand, experts shares that refrigeration leads to nutrient loss in the food subjected to fluctuations in the temperatures.

“Either cooked or not cooked, the food does undergo a nutrient loss when refrigerated,” says Kalapatapu Shravani, Dietician, Basavatarakam Indo American Cancer Hospital and Research Institute, Hyderabad. B Complex vitamins and Vitamin C are the ones most impacted, due to this phenomena. Shravani further remarks that cooking as such, leads to de-nitrification due to excessive heat exposure. Moreover, exposing it to temperatures on the other range of the scale, which is extreme cooling of food and then reheating it, leaves it with paramount loss of vitamins.

“When we put food inside the refrigerator, it happens because of the fermentation process. Sourness, that is, alcohol is released. Bacteria eats up all the sugar. The rice or whatever food, they are all basically made up of starch. So it will slowly ferment,” says Chef Vivekanand, HOD, IHM Hyderabad. He further shares that in initial stages, there is change in taste and in later stages, it also starts smelling differently. He lays great emphasis to the point that the procedures and standards of food storage in the refrigerator are of utmost importance.

Kalapatapu Shravani
Kalapatapu Shravani

Fruits, vegetables and cooked food, each one has a particular temperature to be stored at and also, a particular type of packaging. Glass or metal containers are preferred to store cooked food so as to conduct temperatures well and increase the shelf life. On the other hand, raw fruits and vegetables are to be protected from dehydration while being refrigerated. “You might not immediately come to know about the taste difference and all, but it will affect our health on a long run. When our immunity is not proper, we are prone to disease, like small viral things like cold, cough, fever, and all. Those who keep eating leftover foods from the refrigerator, they keep falling sick too often. So, if you want to be healthy, eat fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, whatever fresh curries which are made, plan properly so that no leftovers are there,” informs Chef Vivekanand.

Microbial activity in food is least when it’s hot and gradually increases as the temperature of the food cools down. “Bacteria that can grow at low temperatures, such as in the refrigerator are Spoilage bacteria. They cause food to develop off or bad tastes and smells,” mention Shweta Madhwal and Sonika Sharma, in a study on ‘Food Safety Issues and Risk Associated with Refrigerated Foods’ under the Department of Food and Nutrition Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, Punjab. The study also mentions that the food that has been stored for too long in the refrigerator or freezer may be of lessened quality, but most likely would not make anyone sick.

Nevertheless, there are risks when the techniques used are of inadequate standards. They specify, “Several researchers have observed and claimed that the food borne illness is initiated in the domestic refrigerator three times more frequently than in commercial refrigerator.” Ensuring proper and maximum air circulation, covering the food in a container, not storing it for a longer period of time, avoiding cross contamination, maintaining hygiene and clean environment in the fridge, separating sections of dairy, raw food and cooked food, and most importantly not overloading the refrigerator are of utmost important influencing factors which determine the nutritive value and the quality of food being preserved in the refrigerator.

As civilisation progresses, there is a massive advancement in technology and also a major shift in the living habits and cultural practices of people. People often tend to choose methods that save time and energy. Following measures and precautions while freezing food can be the best way out and making our lives much easier and simpler.

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