Before we dive into the nitty-gritty details of food processing technology, let’s dive into what food processing is; so food processing transforms agricultural products into an edible form that is food or from one form of food to another. Food processing includes many forms of processing foods, from grinding grain to making raw flour to home cooking to complex industrial methods to make convenience foods.
What is Food Processing Technology?
Food Processing Technology includes a set of physical, chemical, or microbiological methods and techniques used to transmute/transform raw ingredients into food and its transformation into other food processing firms. Food Processing Technology covers various topics such as Food Processing, Food Technology, Food Safety, Food Industry, Food Allergy, Food Microbiology, Food Biotechnology, Food Allergy, Food Addiction, Food Fortification, Food Nanotechnology, etc.
Importance of Food Processing Technology
A strong and dynamic food processing technology sector plays a vital role in the reduction in the wastage of perishable agricultural produce, enhancing the shelf life of food products, ensuring value addition to agricultural produce, diversification, and commercialization of agriculture, generation of employment, enhancing the income of farmers and creating surplus for the export of agro & processed foods.
Food processing technology operations include many methods used to add value to the raw food materials (including marine products, poultry, and meat), consumed by human beings or animals. Raw food materials are transformed into edible products processing and value addition. The operations involved in food processing are mainly classified into two groups, viz., primary processing and secondary processing. This employs rural people, including women, and prevents capital drain from rural to urban areas, thereby narrowing down the economic disparity between rural & urban populations.
Primary processing relates to converting raw agricultural produce, milk, meat, and fish into a commodity that is fit for human consumption. It involves steps such as cleaning, grading, sorting, packing, etc. Secondary and tertiary processing industries usually deal with higher processing levels where new or modified food products are manufactured.
All the raw food materials are processed to improve their palatability, nutritional value, and shelf-life.
Foods are processed for five major reasons:
1) preservation for later consumption or sale to fetch a better price
2) removal of inedible portions
3) destruction or removal of harmful substances
4) conversion to forms desired by the consumer and
5) subdivision into food ingredients.
Generally, the first – preservation for later consumption or sale – is the primary reason for food processing.
Field crops, including grains, oilseeds, sugar crops, and forages, are major contributors of the nutrients required by man either through direct consumption of the seed kernel or isolated components as food or through the utilization of the plant and byproducts as feed in the production of meat, poultry, milk, eggs, and fish. Field crops also have major non-food uses.
Benefits of Food Processing Technology
Modern food processing technology comes with its own pros and cons, and here’s a list of a few:
Ensures Food Safety: More often than not, we take safe food for granted, and thus food processing technology provides us with a tentative of every food is given before which must consume the said item.
Personalized Nutrition and Health –As we become increasingly aware of how different our nutritional need from each other can be. We can either be a vegetarian or vegan; modern food processing technology has made it easier to tailor food to meet specific needs and give us more control of our health.
Nutritional Quality is Preserved–Modern food processing technology ensures that no food loses its nutritional value while storing it. Like some vitamins may lose their nutritional value while storage of the said food due to oxidation. Preservation and packaging techniques stabilize these important nutrients. Modernfood processing technology also uses safe food additives to prevent oxidation.
Fortification and Enrichment – We fortify and enrich foods to add micronutrients, like trace minerals and vitamins. The main aim is to address dietary deficiencies, but the processes can also be used to replace nutrients that could have been lost during previous processing steps. We also use fortification to ensure that substitute foods (eg low fat spreads substituted for butter) are nutritionally equivalent. Foods produced for vegans and vegetarians are often fortified with vitamin B12, which isn’t found in plants. Soya drinks may be fortified with calcium for those who don’t consume dairy products.
The modern food processing technology is a boon or bane is for most people to decide. Food processing technology has enabled us to choose food as per our nutritional needs, and, in some cases, it has reduced the nutritional value of the said food item.