Frozen CO2 output ‘lower than chilled’

A new scientific report on carbon emissions claims to have exposed a “misheld belief” that frozen food is more energy intensive than chilled.

Assessing a range of carbon emissions — from post-harvest or slaughter to consumption by the consumer — researchers found that a frozen meal for a family of four produced 5% less CO2 than its identical chilled counterpart.

While the research looked more at the domestic market than the commercial segment, researchers believe that frozen could contribute towards reducing the CO2 output of the food industry in the future.

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The study was conducted by Bristol-based Refrigeration Developments and Testing, which evaluated the energy sources involved in the processing and transportation of food, right the way through to meal preparation and food waste.

Emissions from all sources considered in the study calculated that a chilled meal for four persons was equivalent to 6.546kg CO2e compared to a frozen meal for four at only 6.329kg CO2e. Across all of food types tested, all but one frozen products had lower CO2e than their chilled counterpart.

Author Judith Evans, Fellow of the Institute of Refrigeration and lead researcher on the study said: “This report goes some way to debunking the commonly held assumption that producing, storing and consuming frozen food is more energy intensive than chilled products. A thorough and rigorous review of the scientific evidence found, within the boundaries considered, frozen to be less CO2 intensive — especially when considering carbon dioxide produced from waste.”

Brian Young, director general of the British Frozen Food Federation, added that frozen has wrongly been seen as a ‘poor relation’ to chilled in terms of quality, nutrition and environmental friendliness. “Misconceptions around quality and nutritional have recently been overturned — and this ‘world first’ CO2 report substantiates the fact that frozen compares favourably to chilled in its ‘green’ credentials.”

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