More fresh and healthier food? Sometimes milder thermal process wins the battle.


Food clients perception of product quality and its impact on health has definitely changed over recent years. More often than ever, food is expected to be high in nutritional value and reach in vitamins, have nice texture and fresh sensory characteristic. Thermal processing of food enables to get a shelf stable product, but let’s be honest – processing at high temperatures (and especially product overheating) destroys food attributes that are now so important for the customers… Food industry knows that clients are more and more educated about the food, and already noticed that customers starts choosing less processed, fresher products.

Applying properly designed, minimum heat treatment, followed by quick cool down and storage of the product at chill temperatures (“cook-to-chill” technique), is one of available methods to preserve desired product quality attributes, while ensuring its safety and microbiological stability during shelf life. “Cook-to-chill’ industry sector has recently expanded and is gaining high retail value.


What our clients want, is:

  • Develop and launch good quality new products
  • Use new, fragile packaging formats
  • Preserve quality of their products to “win with competitors by taste” or to open the window for some voluntary product claims


“Cook-to-chill” technique – key considerations

When developing and implementing a heat-chill process, it should be designed to eliminate or reduce to safe levels, pathogen(s) identified through risk assessment as the most heat resistant, the most likely to outgrow during chilling. At a minimum, heat processing step should achieve a six decimal reduction in numbers of the vegetative cells of the target pathogen, Listeria monocytogenes, but for some food, also Clostridium botulinum Type B must considered as a target microorganism. Taking into consideration the above, minimum 70°C for 2 minutes (or equivalent thermal process) for Listeria monocytogenes and minimum 90°C for 10 minutes for Clostridium botulinum Type B (or equivalent), are required to ensure product safety.

At a minimum, chilling should prevent or reduce the opportunity for any surviving spores of Clostridium perfringens, Cl. botulinum and Bacillus cereus to germinate and grow in the food following heat processing. As such, chilling should decrease the temperature of a heat processed food below 10°C in less than 120 minutes and than, below 5°C within the following 60 minutes.

Like in many other thermally processed products, the biggest challenge is not to achieve product safety, but to prevent product from microbiological spoilage during its shelf life. With cooked-to-chill products it is quite similar – not only thermal process itself, but microbiological load of the ingredient used and manufacturing line hygiene, will finally determine what length of shelf life will be achievable.

In cook-to-chill products, thermal process design and optimization is still in a main focus – not doubt about it. But it is extremely difficult to achieve fresh, microbiologically stable product with long shelf life, when not taking care enough about ingredients specifications and production hygiene.

To understand how we work, please read the following: In-Pack Thermal process design and optimisation.


Who will be involved in designing “Cook-to-chill” process in your factory


You will mainly work with our experienced Thermal Process Expert, who has good understanding of food engineering and production organization aspects. In designing chilled stable foods, especially when you are interested in maximizing product shelf life, Thermal Process Expert will work together with our Microbiologist. When in doubt about hygienic design of your processing line, Thermal Process Expert will recommend you carrying out hygienic design audit to indicate which line components may not be cleaned properly and pose potential hygiene risk for the process. This would be done by our Hygienic Design Specialist. Depending on the scope of your project, at some stage of project realization you may also work with our Nutrition and Product Development Technologist.


Contact us



You may drop us an email at:


Skype Meeting (SKYPE FOR BUSINESS) with our Thermal Processing Expert

Do you want to present / discuss your project in a broader team? Use the callendar below and request 30 mins long Skype Conference with our Thermal Processing Expert. By default, we propose you a meeting between 15.00-15.30 pm Central European Time (UTC/GMT +1h). Once we accept your request, you will receive a link to join Skype Meeting (you can share that link with colleagues within your company). The meeting will open in your Internet browser – you will not need any special program installed on your computer/mobile device to join the meeting. You can also use Skype for Business / Lync application, if you prefer so.


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cook to chill, chilled stable foods, cook-to-chill optimisation