Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/163

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than so-called fresh eggs during the summer months. The popular prejudice against cold storage eggs is not entirely unjustified, since eggs are sometimes stored after having become tainted. As a rule, they are well taken care of after they reach the packer, while the producer uses no precautions to preserve their original condition. It is probable, that there are more tainted eggs sold, that have never been in cold storage, than tainted cold storage eggs. Microorganisms multiply slowly, if at all, at the freezing point. Scientific investigations have not settled this point satisfactorily. Some bacteria may survive at very low temperatures, but freezing gradually kills most of them, as has been demonstrated by bacteriological studies of ice. It has been shown also that the number of bacteria in eggs in cold storage decreases constantly to a point where but few are left. Some observations are on record which seem to show that bacteria may multiply slowly near or below zero. This subject needs more thorough scientific investigation. However, it is safe to say that eggs placed in cold storage in good condition will remain practically unchanged for many months.

Meat, poultry and fish are stored in large quantities in the frozen condition. It is perhaps not generally known that cattle are most plentiful during the three months of late summer and early fall, although there is a limited supply during the remainder of the year. The packers buy all the cattle obtainable, slaughter it, supply the immediate demand and place the surplus in cold storage. When the season of plenty has expired they can draw on cold storage stock and keep the market supplied. Thus prices are kept more or less balanced during the entire year. This is of inestimable value. The prices remain within the limits of every one and a plentiful supply can be carried over from one season to the next without allowing any to go to waste. The meat inspection service carried on by the government is well organized. Every piece of meat handled by the packer has a definite record and consequently only fresh meat is placed in cold storage. It is authoritatively stated that federal or state inspection of eggs and fruits destined for cold storage would be welcomed by all reputable packing houses.

Packers usually have three warehouses, a different temperature prevailing in each one. The fresh meat is hung in the "chill room" at a temperature of 32° F. The temperature gradually rises to about 40° F. while the room is being filled with fresh warm meat. The next morning the temperature is down to 32° F. again. The meat is then removed to the "freezer." Here a temperature of—9 to—12° F. is maintained and the meat left for two to four days. It is now frozen throughout and is transferred to the cold storage room and kept here at 12 to 15° F. This temperature is low enough to keep meat in a frozen condition. Poultry and fish are treated in a similar fashion.