My last question was closed due to egregious subjectivity so I'll be very objective with this post.

Premise: Frozen, microwavable foods are "usually fully cooked during preparation, and only need to be reheated". Microwavable dinners are "formulated to remain edible after long periods of storage".

If I cook some fettuccine Alfredo, mix the pasta together, store it in the refrigerator, and microwave it the next day (or next week), the sauce will objectively separate, and (I guess this is subjective but who would argue) the left overs have a taste and feel which are degraded compared to that which came right off the stove.

If frozen foods are formulated to remain edible after long periods of storage, then the ingredients used to formulate such foods are responsible for this longevity. Therefor, which of the following ingredients in Stouffer's Fettuccine Alfredo are responsible?

I am particularly interested in ingredients that I as a consumer can have control over to experiment with. For example, from my other question I learned that the food technologists at these companies have altered their starch (called "modified starch"), which I am unable to do.

Here are the main ingredients as far as I can tell:

blanched fettuccine (water, semolina, wheat gluten)
skim milk
soybean oil
Parmesan cheese (cultured milk, salt,enzymes)
2% or less of water
asiago cheese (cultured milk, salt , enzymes)
modified cornstarch, Romano cheese (pasteurized milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes)
enzyme modified Parmesan cheese (cultured milk, water, salt, enzymes)
whey protein concentrate

Here are the non-main ingredients as far as I can tell:

xanthan gum
lactic acid
calcium lactate
seasoning (maltodextrin, flavor, enzyme modified butterfat)
seasoning (wheat starch, extracts of annatola and tumeric color, natural flavor)

From my question that got closed, I learned that xanthan gum was very useful as an emulsifier and making the sauce thicker. Emusifiers should prevent the sauce from coming apart in the microwave.

Datem = derived from tartaric acid, lowers pH, and is an emulsifier

Lactose "may be used to sweeten stout beer; the resulting beer is usually called a milk stout or a cream stout."

Lactic acid "Lactic acid is used as a food preservative, curing agent, and flavoring agent. It is an ingredient in processed foods..." It is also used to lower pH in beer.

Calcium lactate, I couldn't find too much on. From this interesting site it appears to be used in a lot of cheese products.

Maltodextrin " improves the mouthfeel of the beer, increases head retention and reduces the dryness of the drink. Maltodextrin has no flavor and is not fermented by the yeast, so it does not increase the alcohol content of the brew. It is also used in snacks such as Sun Chips. It is used in "light" peanut butter to reduce the fat content but keep the texture"

Annatto appears to be a food coloring

  • 3
    The main thing that contributes to the longevity of frozen foods is the freezing. Once you actually freeze something well, sealed in an airtight container, it's going to stay that way for a while. Are you maybe trying to ask "how do I make an alfredo sauce that holds up to freezing" and "what's the best way to freeze pasta?"
    – Cascabel
    Mar 28, 2014 at 7:35
  • @Jefromi Yep I got that feedback in my previous question. I will definitely try freezing and comparing that to refrigerating. Nope, I'm not trying to ask specifically about alfredo; my previous post was closed and it was suggested that I ask about specific ingredients, so I chose my favorite frozen meal. Mar 28, 2014 at 8:32
  • @MatthewMoisen, you are assuming that your alfredo sauce will separate if frozen and then re-heated, and that you need extra ingredients to prevent the separation. I would suggest that if you freeze quickly after cooking it will remain stable. If the freezing in this case that does the work for you, not additives.
    – GdD
    Mar 28, 2014 at 12:38
  • @MatthewMoisen Then... I don't understand your question. If you're aware that freezing is what does the preserving, why are you asking about preservative ingredients?
    – Cascabel
    Mar 28, 2014 at 17:41
  • @Jefromi I figured that the freezing contributed to the longetivity but that perhaps the ingredients did as well. What I mean by longevity is both the retention of flavor (as compared to refrigerated leftovers) and other cooking components that I'm not aware of as I'm new this. As an example, the emulsion properties of xanthan gum. I'll definitely try freezing though and reformulate this question as required. Mar 28, 2014 at 22:32

1 Answer 1


None of them.

The list you gave us doesn't contain any preservatives. As freezing by itself is a method of preserving food, they don't need any, and the list shows they don't put any into the food.

There is a problem with your assumption

If frozen foods are formulated to remain edible after long periods of storage

No, they aren't. They are formulated normally, and then frozen. That's all there is to it. They would be terrible if you tried to store them without freezing.

  • Well, they're formulated to hold up to freezing when necessary. But yes, nothing special for preserving.
    – Cascabel
    Mar 28, 2014 at 17:40
  • 1
    They're also flash frozen (typically with liquid nitrogen as far as I know). Mar 28, 2014 at 19:46
  • 1
    We should probably also add: they are well-packaged (airtight) so that they don't lose flavor or moisture.
    – Cascabel
    Mar 28, 2014 at 23:54

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