Tesco is set to launch a new range of six chilled ready meals that will whistle when cooked and do not need piercing before use.
The Indian curry dishes, made by S&R Foods under the East End brand, will hit shelves in June. Using in-pack pasteurisation cooking technology, the curries will have a 30-day shelf life without the need for preservatives.
The MicVac packaging, developed in Sweden, also saves customers the bother of stirring microwave meals halfway through cooking.
The technology works like a mini pressure cooker, where the trays of food are sealed with a film prior to cooking to retain all nutrients, textures and flavours.
A valve is then applied to the film and the meal is cooked for 10 minutes. The meal comes out fully processed, the valve closes and the overpressure condenses to form a vacuum, which prevents bacteria entering the trays.
The valve also acts as a tamper-evidence tool and lets off a whistling sound during reheating to indicate that the meal is ready.
“You put the product in the microwave, don’t have to stir it halfway through, hear it whistle and it’s ready. It’s a step change in the food industry,” MicVac agent Andrew Niznik claimed. “It’s a clean product and under vacuum so there’s no chance of listeria. We’ve got a Michelin chef that’s been using it in Sweden,” he added.
Tesco will be the first major UK supermarket to employ the technology, although the packaging is already being used by S&R in the Whistling Chef range it created for Makro last year.
“The new technology is allowing us to achieve things that were thought impossible with chilled meals, such as using raw garnishes in-pack and using 100% fresh ingredients in every meal, but still with a 30-day shelf life,” said S&R Foods commercial director Asad Hussain.
Meanwhile, Sealed Air Cryovac and Jofemar have this week unveiled a vending machine that dispenses hot ready meals using a similar pressure cooker and vacuum-packing process.
Sales of sous vide ‘are set to boil over’ (7 August 2010)