620 million litres of ice-cream are eaten every year in Germany – that's around seven litres per person. But ice-cream comes in many different kinds. The food experts at TÜV SÜD have some tips for consumers on how to recognise quality and what hygiene rules to watch out for to enjoy ice-cream without screaming.
The market for this frozen delicacy falls into three categories: industrially produced branded ice-creams, sold all year round; artisanal ice-cream produced by hand, primarily in the summer; and soft-serve ice-cream from automatic dispensers. Although every year manufacturers and retailers fall over themselves to outdo each other with new flavours, consumers' preferences have remained steady over the long term with vanilla far and away the favourite flavour, followed by chocolate, hazelnut and strawberry.
German food regulations govern the ingredients permitted to be used in ice-cream, which is defined as a frozen mixture of milk, dairy products, eggs, various types of sugar, honey, water, fruit, butter, vegetable fat, flavourings and/or colourings. However, in principle ice-cream may contain any other ingredients permitted as foodstuffs. There are various categories of ice-cream depending on the composition and ingredients. While these categories are carefully regulated in Germany, other countries are far less specific.
- Premium ice-cream may typically contain a minimum of 50 per cent milk. Water is not generally used in the production of this type. The mix may also contain a proportion of whole egg or egg yolk.
- Super-premium ice-cream typically contains around one-fifth milk fat from whipped cream or liquid cream whipped in the ice machine to incorporate air during the freezing process. The high fat content produces a particularly creamy and rich ice-cream. Fruit, chocolate or flavouring can be added to create Neapolitan-style ice-cream.
- Frozen custard or French ice-cream includes the addition of egg yolk.
- Dairy ice-cream should comprise a high percentage of milk. It may be sweetened with sugar syrup and flavoured with fruit puree or other ingredients; artisanal ice-cream produced in this way is among the most popular products in German ice-cream parlours.
- Regular ice-cream contains a minimum of 10 per cent milk fat.
- Sherbets: Sherbets may contain around 20 per cent fruit. Fruit sherbets made from citrus fruits or other acidic fruits contain a lower proportion of fruit, generally around 10 per cent.
- Fruit ice-cream oftencontains around8 per cent milk fat and has a pronounced fruit flavour, although the fruit content is not specified.
- Sorbets or fruit sorbets comprise frozen water flavoured with around 25 per cent fruit (exception: citrus fruits). They do not generally contain milk or dairy products.
- Water ices contain a very low percentage of fat and primarily comprise frozen water with sugar and flavourings.
Sweet treats which do not fall into these categories are generally described simply as "frozen desserts". In these cases, expensive milk fat is usually replaced with significantly cheaper coconut or palm oils; however, vegetable fats are also popular because of their longer shelf life and higher melting point. Many branded ice-cream manufacturers have therefore adopted vegetable fats in their recipes.
Minor differences in labelling – major differences in content
"For consumers, the main issue with product quality information is that tiny differences in labelling can indicate significant differences in product composition", explains Dr Andreas Daxenberger, food expert at TÜV SÜD. For example, the difference between "economy ice-cream" and "dairy ice-cream" is only one word – but may stand for the difference between a mixture of skimmed milk, whey products and vegetable fat and a mixture of cream and milk.
Cold chain and hygiene are important for carefree enjoyment
In the art of making ice-cream, numerous factors must come together in precisely the right way to produce the perfect result. Manufacturers and consumers must also address hygiene challenges, as the blend of sugar, cream, fat or egg is vulnerable to bacteria. Hygiene in the production, sale and storage of ice-cream is therefore of paramount importance! Consumers can help to ensure that the cold chain remains unbroken from point of purchase to point of consumption:
- In shops or supermarkets, packaged ice-cream is stored at a maximum of -18°C. Supermarket freezers must therefore not be filled to the brim, but only to the clearly visible maximum level mark under which temperatures of -18°C are guaranteed.
- Only place ice-cream in your trolley at the end of your shopping trip, and pack it in an insulated cool bag to take home.
- When stored in home freezers, ice-cream should not be placed next to strong-smelling products such as fish or herbs, which may spoil its delicate flavour.
- Crystals on the surface of the ice-cream may indicate that the cold chain has been broke. Never refreeze partly thawed or melted ice-cream.
Hygiene in ice-cream parlours and stands is subject to statutory hygiene inspections. However, before buying, consumers should also check that the ice-cream on display does not appear to be thawed or liquid on the surface. It should be stored at a minimum of -10°C. The ice-cream parlour should make a clean and orderly impression – check the work surfaces, the appearance of the staff and the scoop servers they are using.
Scoop servers or taps on soft-serve dispensers can be hotbeds of bacteria. Spoons or scoops should preferably be left standing in a sink in clear running water. If they are standing in a container of water, the water should be clear. Taps on dispensers of soft-serve ice-cream or slushes are particularly vulnerable; cleaning and disinfection several times a day are a must for operators to prevent bacteria multiplying on taps, which would contaminate servings of ice-cream as they leave the dispenser. Consumers are therefore advised to take a second look at the other side of the counter at ice-cream parlours and at dispenser nozzles.
TÜV SÜD est une organisation internationale indépendante de services techniques spécialisée sur les secteurs d'activité de l’INDUTRIE, la MOBILITE et la CERTIFICATION. Les experts sont des partenaires dédiés aux processus de leurs clients, offrant une expertise approfondie de l'industrie tout au long de la chaîne de valeur. Ils concentrent leurs services sur leurs compétences fondamentales de conseil, de test, d’inspection, de certification et de formation. Plus de 17.000 employés se sont engagés à l’optimisation de la technologie, des systèmes et du savoir-faire dans plus de 800 implantations en Europe, aux Amériques, en Asie Pacifique et en Afrique. Des informations complémentaires sont disponibles surwww.tuv-sud.fr. TÜV SÜD AG a été créé en 1866 à Munich et sa filiale française, TÜV SÜD France a été créé en 2010.