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The Advantages and Disadvantages of Food Processing

Food and Beverages | Friday, August 12, 2022

Although food processing is not a novel notion, many individuals may not grasp how and why it occurs.

FREMONT, CA: Due to food processing, people can consume a wider variety of foods than their ancestors. Increased variety enables people to consume a diet that is more likely to provide all the nutrients necessary for optimal health. As a result of the ability to safely preserve and package food, people can carry foods from around the world to their homes. They are not limited by what is produced locally or by the seasons, dramatically expanding the availability and accessibility of food for the urban-dwelling majority.

Apples are generally harvested over two to three months but are accessible throughout the year. This is because after apples are harvested, they can be promptly put into controlled environment storage, which inhibits their respiration and consequently their ripening, allowing them to be stored for up to a year. Because food science enables people to comprehend how and why food quality degrades during storage, people can pick conditions that considerably increase storage times while preserving freshness.

However, these developments are not without disadvantages. Transporting food across long distances, frequently by air, contributes to the environmental impact of food production and climate change. And because there are no seasonal distinctions in the availability of produce, customers forget which foods can be grown at which times of the year, expect them year-round, and are unwilling to pay extra for the additional energy and resources needed to produce their off-season.

Assurance of food safety: People take the availability of safe food for granted. Use-by dates on perishable goods indicate how long they are safe to consume, and labeling storage instructions help people maintain food properly. Food processing procedures, such as pasteurization of milk, canning, and freeze-drying, will have been utilized to ensure the food's safety.

A downside of this strictly regulated labeling system is that supermarkets must discard products past their sell-by date. This causes a significant amount of safe food to be wasted. Charities and certain governments are addressing this issue; France is the first nation to prevent supermarkets from discarding unsold food, allowing them to donate it to charities instead.

Individualized diet and health: People are becoming increasingly conscious of the relationship between the foods they eat and health and that nutritional demands may differ from those of others. They can choose a vegetarian or vegan diet, or they may have a food allergy or an illness related to food (for example, coeliac disease). Modern food processing has made it feasible to tailor foods to specific dietary requirements, granting people greater control over their health.

However, this produces an environment saturated with health claims and counterclaims on certain foods. It is frequently challenging to determine which meals are trustworthy.

Preserving dietary quality: Modern preservation techniques preserve not only the quality but also the nutritional value of food. Some vitamins, for instance, lose their nutritional value rapidly during storage, primarily due to oxidation. The procedures of preservation and packaging stabilize these vital nutrients. Additionally, people can employ safe dietary additives to avoid oxidation. However, sometimes nutrients are lost during processing and subsequent storage. Essential nutrients may degrade depending on the extent and kind of processing. And although plastic packaging has revolutionized the capacity to keep food fresh with no added weight (which is crucial in terms of the energy required to transport it), there are significant environmental costs connected with the production and disposal of plastic.

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