Keep cool and carry on: Innovative ice may enhance food safety, reduce food waste

Alabama scientists are creating new kinds of ice that may be a game-changer for cold food transportation and storage —signaling a significant advance in the fight against food waste. More than 133 billion pounds of food is wasted in the U.S. every year.Functional ice is an additive-enhanced product that generates lower temperatures and slower melting than run-of-the-mill ice. That’s important because maintaining foods at cold temperatures from source to retail sales minimizes waste and spoilage. Plus, some functional ice blends can enhance food safety —they slowly release antimicrobial solutions that protect raw food by preventing build-up of bacteria.The research, conducted under a provisional patent, has tested different additives targeted at protecting specific foods or suitable for different modes of transportation. For example, researchers have conducted field tests with chicken products stored in functional ice and noted a reduction in pathogens, including salmonella, and a two-day increase in shelf life.Researchers are examining ways to incorporate functional ice additives into commercial ice-making machines and to configure the machines for use on-site in processing plants and fishing docks.