Fast Food from the Sea
Dietary experts are sounding the alarm. Germans are eating too much fat. The healthy alternative to fatty fast foods comes from Holland: THE SEAFOOD KEBAB. The gently cooked skewered squid is still a rarity in Germany with just 40 sale points throughout the whole country. “And that‘s how it will stay,” forecasts Wilfried Klages, engineer. The consultant from Wedemark just outside of Hanover, is a building management specialist in the meat and fish processing industry.
The unique properties of raw seafood make special cooling materials necessary
Klages and his engineering office have been designing kebab production facilities for locations throughout Germany for the past ten years. He has helped define standards for the kebab cooling process. He installs only Air Coolers from GEA Küba as to ensure consistant process security. “Fish and seafood kebabs have been a subject of interest for some time. But production has yet not been economically meaningful,” Klages explains. The manufacturing process, he went on, is complex and
the engineering process is sensitive.
Fish and seafood are expensive, especially in processing. The half-life of raw fish is three hours. It has to be processed at an ambient temperature of 2 to 4°C during this time. The product temperature, while covered in a layer of ice, should remain a constant 0 to 2°C. The salt content for preservation in seafood recipes is much higher than in meat processing. Cooling takes place in a circulating air process. The circulating air flows, draftfree, through the production hall at speeds of up to 2 metres a
second. Here, the particles of defrosting water, salt or dust are absorbed. These particles are deposited on the walls and the floor, as well as the fins of the Air Coolers.
“The special properties of raw seafood require the use of corrosion-resistant materials which,” says Klages, “need to have already been taken into account during the building planning phase.” While standard stainless steel is certified for use with foodstuffs in meat processing, salt-resistant V4A stainless steel is used for fish and seafood. Glass fibre reinforced with plastic lining on the walls is compulsory to prevent germs and bacteria from collecting. The floor is also given a special seal. The main focus, however, is on the Air Coolers.
The aerosols in the air have an effect on the casing and fins. To prevent corrosion, the casing has to be completely powder coated to be 100 % food safe. Corrosion-resistant insulation with PVC coating has to be used for the refrigeration tubes, (which are usually made of copper) and for the condensate water lines.
A gold-coloured epoxy resin varnish is applied to the aluminium fin belt in the manufacturing process and reliably prevents a corrosive attack. This epoxy lacquer is resistant to the aggressive circulated air and ensures the required security process. Regular cleaning and the highest possible hygienic measures are required here.
“If you intend to process fish,” Klages explains, “you have to expect additional investment costs of 25 to 40% right from the start in comparison with meat.” Businessmen avoid such investments and are unwilling to switch from meat to seafood – not even partially. “There is thus a lack of supply so that no demand can be generated,” Klages says. Again, these are investments which the kebab market is also unwilling to make at least not in Germany, where a kebab from a snack bar in Berlin Kreuzberg costs only 1.99 euros, and where the sales of fish kebabs are expected to be around one tenth of one percent of the kebab market in Germany. Germans eat five million lamb and poultry kebabs every day. However, outside the fast food outlets, fish and seafood kebabs have been on the menus of some top Hamburg restaurants as fried dishes for years.
Fish and seafood kebabs have been permitted in the EU since 2000. The only production facility certified by the food quality standards authorities in Germany is in Chemnitz. The main product that is processed there is squid – because it has no bones and because the tissue structure is very good for skewering. The squid is supplied as a deep frozen filet and is then processed further. The seafood kebab is cooked in a closed special grill at 70°C for 20 minutes. This prevents the squid from drying up.
Evaporators and high-performance Air Coolers for sensitive areas
“Since a snack van or a snack bar requires special kitchen equipment under food laws for fish and seafood products in line with the processing standards, there are practically no distribution channels for fish or seafood kebabs in Germany,” Klages explains. He started his own engineering office offering technical planning services for food production facilities in 1998 and now operates all over Europe. The Wedemark planning team has four members and sets up three to four kebab production facilities a year. “We more or less grew from kebabs,” Klages stated. Klages has worked with GEA Küba for 25 years. “Before I started up my own business, I worked for big cold storage producers for many years. The evaporators and high-performance Air Coolers from GEA Küba were generally always the first choice for sensitive areas,” Klages continues and emphasises, “The company works right with the customer, always looking for a solution; they are open to customer requests and implement them in the engineering. That‘s what I like about them. And that‘s why I plan with Air Coolers from GEA Küba.”