The History of the Food Refrigeration and Process Engineering Research Centre - Free Webinar, 14 Dec 2023

14 December 2023 16:00-17:00

The History of the Food Refrigeration and Process Engineering Research Centre and its Role in Food Refrigeration Research, Free Webinar, 14 Dec 2023

Date and time

Date: 14th December 2023

Time: 16:00 -17:00 GMT


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The history of industrial food refrigeration dates back to the late 1800s when consignments of frozen meat from Australia, New Zealand and South America began to be routinely shipped to the UK and Europe.

The need to guarantee the safe high quality storage and transportation of perishable foods became critical during the 1st World War due to the requirement to feed millions of troops.  Research was needed on the refrigeration of meat and other perishable products. To meet these needs the Low Temperature Research Station (LTRS) was established at Cambridge. LTRS carried out much of fundamental research into the relationship between food temperature/time and the safety and quality of meat. In the mid-1960s the Government decided to close LTRS and a number of other food research centres and establish two new research institutes bringing together the countries red meat experts at the Meat Research Institute (MRI) Langford Bristol and experts on other foods, including poultry, at the Food Research Institute at Norwich.

In September 1967 investigations were started on a programme of research into meat refrigeration at the new Meat Research Institute (MRI) under construction at Langford near Bristol.  In 1985 the MRI became the Institute of Food Research – Bristol Laboratory (IFR-BL) and that programme now extended to cover the refrigeration and thermal processing of all foods.  On the closure of the IFR-BL this work continued on the same site under the auspices of the University of Bristol’s Food Refrigeration and Process Engineering Research Centre (FRPERC) until 2009.  In 2009 FRPERC transferred its activities to the Grimsby Institute where it continued its activities until 2023.  This programme of experimental and theoretical studies has resulted in numerous developments and publications covering chilling, freezing, thawing, tempering, storage, transport, display of refrigerated foods.  This paper/presentation describes the development of food refrigeration research over the total period.



Stephen James 

Steve joined the Meat Research Institute (MRI) when it was established in 1967 initially involved primarily in research on all aspects of meat refrigeration.  He remained at the institute during its change to the Institute of Food Research – Bristol Laboratory (IFR-BL) where his role expanded to cover all foods and heating processes (cooking and decontamination).  He established the Food Refrigeration & Process Engineering Research Centre (FRPERC) in 1991 at the University of Bristol when the IFR-BL closed in 1990.  He took up a consultancy role at FRPERC when it moved to Grimsby Institute in 2009.  He is an author/co-author of over 600 publications on all aspects of the food cold chain from primary cooling through to domestic handling.  Although formally retired he still provides support and input to research projects, acts as a reviewer for many food and refrigeration journals and provides expert witness consultancy.


Christian James 

Chris worked at FRPERC since graduation in 1993.  When FRPERC closed at the University of Bristol in 2009 he moved with some of his colleagues to re-establish FRPERC at the Grimsby Institute.  In 2023 FRPERC was closed down at the Grimsby Institute and he established Fairholme Scientific Ltd to continue his work in supporting research and consultancy for the food industry.  He is also a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Lincoln.  His research and consultancy have covered many topics such as hygienic control measures during the primary processing of meat and produce, chilling and freezing (including freezing points and supercooling), thawing and tempering, conventional and microwave cooking/pasteurisation, and surface pasteurisation technologies.  He has written and presented extensively on these subjects via peer-reviewed papers, conferences, lectures, and books.


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