||Technology in Australia 1788-1988
Table of Contents
I Technology Transported; 1788-1840
II Technology Established; 1840-1940
III The Coming Of Science
IV From Science To Technology: The Post-war Years
V Products And Processes
i Frozen Foods
ii Instant and Convenience Foods
iii Dairy Technology
Frozen FoodsClarence Birdseye made his original observations on frozen food in Alaska in 1916, but the development of a frozen food industry was slow. It depended on the establishment of a chain of refrigerated storage and transport from the producer into the home, and home refrigeration in the twenties and thirties was in its infancy. Ice-cream was, perhaps, the first frozen food but was bought in single serves or made, laboriously and inexpertly by those who had a refrigerator, from the packet mixes which have been overrun by technology and have now disappeared from the market.
Quick frozen vegetables first appeared in Australia in 1940 'but it was in 1949 before the first vegetables, specially grown for the purpose, were processed in New South Wales for sale under the Birds Eye brand'. The range offered in 1949-50 was extensive and most of it was produced at Batlow, New South Wales, by Birds Eye (Aust) Ltd., then a subsidiary of Unilever but now part of the Edgell interests.
S. M. Sykkes of the New South Wales Department of Agriculture and later of CSIRO, was closely involved in background R & D including the application of CSIRO work on frozen peas and his own identification of and work on the varieties of berry fruits suitable for freezing. L. J. Lynch and R. S. Mitchell of CSIRO invented an instrument called a Maturometer for use with peas. It measured and predicted the time of optimum quality of peas for freezing and canning and could also indicate whether or not a crop should be processed at all.
There was considerable development in Australia of frozen food technology during the fifties, when other companies in other States began production. Fruit, fish, convenience foods, poultry and meat were rapidly added to the range of frozen food products as supermarket shopping, with access to frozen food cabinets, became commonplace. It is not too much to say that the introduction of the frozen food chain made possible the explosive development of the chicken meat industry even as it revolutionized the selling of ice-cream. More recently, chilled foods have been introduced for retail and catering.
The quality of quick frozen foods depends essentially on two things, top quality raw material and rapid freezing. The first is achieved by putting the factories in the growing areas and the second by blast freezing in tunnels or, when individually frozen entities such as frozen peas are required, by fluid bed freezing, that is, in an upward current of very cold air of velocity high enough to keep each pea just air borne and thus to freeze it separately from its neighbour. The special challenges of the packaging of frozen foods were quickly met. Those who made them understood the constraints of refrigeration, but the supermarket manager and others involved in the frozen food chain have, with frozen foods, more potential for adversely affecting quality than for any other type of preserved foods entrusted to them. All have had to be taught the dangers to quality, and even health, inherent in poor handling, especially thawing and refreezing, guidelines for the industry have had to be laid down, and consumers taught how to handle what were, in effect, new products.
Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Birds Eye (Aust.) Ltd
People in Bright Sparcs - Birdseye, Clarence; Lynch, L. J.; Mitchell, R. S.; Sykes, S. M.
© 1988 Print Edition page 133, Online Edition 2000
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher