British equipment manufacturer Starfrost has supplied a new contact freezing system for poultry products to Russia’s largest meat producer.
Cherkizovo Group is the market leader in Russian meat processing, distributing products to around 115 million consumers or 80% of the country’s population. One of the company’s main activities is processing chilled and frozen poultry products.
UK-based freezing and chilling specialist Starfrost was recently approached to supply a new contact freezing system at Cherkizovo’s Moscow processing facility.
Cherkizovo was using a spiral freezer with a metal mesh conveyor belt, and wanted to eliminate belt marks and improve product yield on raw chicken fillets.
Starfrost’s StarContact Film Hardener (CFH) is designed to pre-condition food products, hardening the underside surface by freezing to a depth of around 1mm. It features a thin (10 microns) polyethylene film conveyor belt passing over a refrigerated plate.
The StarContact CFH quickly freezes and hardens the underside of food products before they enter the final freezing process, usually on a conventional spiral freezer with mesh conveyor belt. This unique pre-hardening process eliminates belt mesh marks on the product. It also helps to seal in moisture, reduce dehydration and minimise weight loss, to improve product quality and yield.
With less product contamination on the spiral belt mesh, the pre-hardening process improves hygiene. Maintenance is also reduced on the subsequent spiral freezer as the belt is not subjected to unnecessary stress caused by product sticking to the mesh conveyor.
Cherkizovo’s StarContact CFH is an enclosed in-line freezing tunnel (length 8m x width 1m) with a processing capacity of 1,500kg per hour of raw poultry. The system was designed and supplied from Starfrost’s UK manufacturing facility in Suffolk, with installation co-ordinated by the company’s East Europe sales office.
Starfrost’s Managing Director Neil Winney says: “Starfrost’s contact freezer will enable Cherkizovo to improve the appearance, quality and yield of their poultry products. It will also help to make the production process ultra hygienic. Thanks to the StarContact system, the product will not stick to the conveyor belt or get damaged during final processing in the spiral freezer.”
Starfrost’s StarContact CFH can be used to improve the presentation, quality and value of wet and delicate products before final freezing. The system is ideal for freezing the underside of raw meats and poultry to eliminate belt marks. It can also be used to maintain the shape of wet or delicate seafood products such as fish fillets, scallops, octopus and squid.
A second model in the StarContact series, the Contact Film Freezer (CFF) features an overhead air cooling system for full freezing of larger products. Applications for this system also include fruit juice or puree freezing, as any fluid can be contained on the plastic film throughout the freezing process.