QWhat is the legal temperature for frozen food?
AActually, there isn’t one. Many years ago there was a temperature control regulation that set a minimum limit of -12C for all frozen foods for all food business operators. But this was removed when it became more established that frozen temperatures and shelf-life were more of a quality than a hygiene issue.
However, ’quick-frozen’ foods, that are particularly labelled as such, have a specified minimum temperature of -18C and are governed by their own specific regulations. ’Quick-frozen’ foods must be pre-packed in the same facility where the freezing takes place. The labelling must include a best-before date and batch number. Quick-frozen foods are generally mass-market items, because of the processes that take place typically close to the original primary point of production. Good examples would be vegetables and fish, as well as ready-meals.
For other food business operators that freeze food in the course of their everyday business, most best-practice guides suggest a temperature of -18C and I would agree with this.
For retail packs of frozen food sold to the customer frozen, I would recommend a best-before date. It is also good practice to set your own internal time limits for anything you bulk-freeze. These days I would recommend an absolute maximum period of 12 months. I would reduce this period for poultry and poultry products.