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DEFINITION:
The goal in freezing seafood is to bring the center of the product to a temperature of 0°F or lower as quickly as possible. Choice of freezing method — blast, cryogenic, plate or brine freezing — depends on product types, intended uses, packaging needs and cost.

Advantages

Quality. The texture and taste of quickly frozen fresh seafood is nearly the same as fresh. In fact, frozen-at-sea product is of much better quality than “fresh” fish that has been in a boat’s refrigerated hold for over a week. 

Safety. When seafood is frozen and stored at appropriately low temperatures (at least minus 10°F), bacterial growth is arrested, preserving the product and dramatically extending shelf life. 

Economy. High-quality frozen fish is not only superior to a stale, unfrozen product but is much less wasteful, easier to inventory and usually less expensive than fresh. 

Variety. A wider range of frozen seafood is available than fresh seafood, including value-added forms like breaded/battered and complete dinners.

Disadvantages

Perception. Many consumers remain convinced that any fresh seafood is superior to frozen product. 

Potential mishandling. To maintain quality, frozen seafood must be frozen properly initially, then kept at a constant temperature. It’s not always possible to know if you’re buying frozen seafood that’s been properly frozen and stored.

Checklist

  • Buy only good-quality frozen fish. Proper freezing can maintain quality but does not improve it. 
  • Ensure proper freezing. Slow or incomplete freezing affects texture, flavor and shelf life. 
  • Most frozen seafood should be glazed with a protective coating of ice to prevent dehydration and oxidation during storage and distribution. 
  • Excessive ice crystals inside containers and wrappings indicate loss of moisture — along with flavor, texture and shelf life — the result of temperature fluctuations. 
  • Inner plastic lining (“polybag”) or plastic sheets or cellowrap surrounding a product should be of high-quality plastic and thick enough to give adequate protection. 
  • All frozen-seafood packaging should be tight and unbroken.