« June 2009 Table of Contents
Spotlight: Keeping it cool
Processors try different ice systems to increase efficiency, extend product shelf life
By Lauren Kramer
June 01, 2009
Processors can eliminate losses due to shrinkage and
shortened shelf life by using an effective ice machine tailored
to the requirements of a specific seafood operation. Just ask
Prince Edward Aqua Farms, a seafood processor that handles
Malpeque oysters, clams and blue mussels.
Prior to investing in a Deepchill™ variable state ice
system, the Prince Edward Island, Canada, company was using a
flake-ice system but found that it did not cool fast enough,
melted quickly and was inefficient.
"Our goal was to reduce drip loss and increase shelf life by
maintaining a colder core temperature, especially during the
mussel spawning season in June and July," says Jerry Bidgood,
PEAF general manager. "The flake-ice system required a lot of
manual labor as ice had to be shovelled into every box and
After installing a Deepchill system from Sunwell, PEAF was
able to use seawater to produce up to 5 metric tons of dry ice,
or almost 10 metric tons of
Deepchill slurry ice per day,
pumping it automatically to four locations at its facility.
"The Deepchill system gave us an automatic method for icing
that got in between every mussel in every bag, ensuring fast
cooling of the entire product," Bidgood says. "It can be packed
more densely, so we get more ice into the boxes, and that gets
us 10 to 12 days of shelf life from our mussels. Our
competitors, who use other types of ice, can only get seven
days of shelf life. Deepchill has helped us improve as a
company financially, and allowed us to supply consistently
superior quality product that our customers recognize and keep
returning for repeat orders."
Sunwell's Deepchill system can discharge three different
forms of slurry ice; liquid slurry for rapid chilling, a thick
paste for overnight storage and dry snow-like crystals for
packaging seafood. Each system is tailored to its specific
"A typical customized Deepchill System for a processor would
include a Deepchill generation module, a storage silo and a
delivery system," says Simon Goldstein, VP of Sunwell
Technologies in Woodbridge, Ontario, the icemaker's
The module allows processors to generate Deepchill using
off-peak power. The storage silo allows processors to store
Deepchill crystals in an insulated, thermos-like silo without
requiring any additional refrigeration, energy or raking/auger
mechanism. Finally, the delivery system allows processors to
discharge Deepchill slurry anywhere in a processing plant in
the ideal thickness for each desired application.
"The liquid Deepchill slurry is ideal for fish receiving and
rapid chilling, while the thick Deepchill paste allows for
constant temperature for overnight storage or transportation,"
says Goldstein. "The dry, snow-like Deepchill crystals are used
for packing and weigh less than traditional ice."
Deepchill systems are installed in more than 30 countries in
locations varying from fishing vessels to processing plants and
Corrosion prevention is a critical feature of any ice
machine. That's why Chicago-based Howe Corp. started using
stainless steel and other corrosive-resistant materials to
improve the reliability and sanitation of its flake ice
machines. With production capacities ranging from 1,000 pounds
to 40,000 pounds per day, Howe's flake ice machines are
considered among the most energy efficient in the industry.
The company, which was founded in 1912, introduced a 25-year
warranty on its machines in 1992, though "many of our customers
own Howe Ice Flakers that are 40 years old," says Kevin McCool,
Howe's basic flaker design has not changed over the years,
but the type of refrigerants used in the industry has,
particularly in response to global warming and ozone depletion.
Howe's latest development is a line of flake ice equipment that
operates on carbon dioxide.
"The working pressures of CO2 are higher than with most
other refrigerants, but CO2 is one of the most environmentally
friendly refrigerants," McCool says. While the number of CO2
refrigeration systems is limited to a handful of supermarkets
and seafood processors in the United States, McCool anticipates
it will be a strong growth market in the years ahead.
One of Howe's customers is Kildare Fisheries in Alberton,
Prince Edward Island. Until five years ago, the company
purchased ice for its operations, but after analyzing the
costs, Kildare owner Jamie Rayner opted to purchase a Howe
"A machine like this pays for itself," says Rayner, who has
since purchased four more Howe units. "Flake ice is gentler on
seafood products, while cube ice can dimple the product,
causing damage. In the seafood business, the value of quality
can never be underestimated."
Contributing Editor Lauren Kramer lives in British