Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Antifreeze protein enhances food storage

An EU-funded project has harnessed an antifreeze protein (AFP) to prevent ice damage caused by freezing, which increases the shelf-life of food.
Antifreeze protein enhances food storage
Advancements in frozen storage methods have significantly extended food shelf-life and increased supermarket access to global imports. Unfortunately though, the freezing and thawing process can create ice crystals that rupture cell walls, thus damaging products.

The aim of the 'Freeze control in food by ice binding proteins' (FREEZECONTROL BY IBP) project was to find out if such damage could be prevented using AFPs. The project advanced cryopreservation technologies that make use of AFPs to inhibit the growth of cell-damaging ice crystals, a mechanism known to help organisms survive sub-zero temperatures.

Researchers designed two new technologies for measuring AFP activity. The first is a custom-made computer-controlled cold microscope stage system; the second is a microfluidic device allowing temperature control of ice crystals in a microscopic environment.

They found that a specific class of AFP had a greater effect on ice recrystallisation and ice shaping, and that preventing these two processes could improve cryopreservation. The project also successfully up-scaled the production of large numbers of AFPs, which is necessary for cryopreservation research.

Overall, this research reveals the potential of ice-binding proteins, such as AFPs, to improve the quality of frozen food. Their application would improve cold chain management, decrease food wastage, and minimise the health risks associated with importing and exporting frozen products.

Related information

Keywords

Antifreeze protein, food storage, ice damage, freeze control, ice-binding proteins
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