Food processing is manipulating raw ingredients by physical or chemical means into food or of the food itself for consumption. Food processing combines raw food ingredients to produce marketable food products that the consumer can easily prepare and serve. Modern technology has substantially altered traditional food production methods from hunting and gathering to mass production.

Food processing takes clean, harvested, or slaughtered and butchered components and uses them to produce marketable food products. The main kinds of processing are thermal processing, milling, fermentation, pasteurization, evaporation, drying, concentration, and blending.

Raw ingredients can be considered a food product in many ways before being cooked into a culinary dish. On the other hand, a processed food product considered in a final form may not be regarded as a raw material. A cooked dish that contains flour would be considered as cooking rather than milling.

Flour is one of the most significant ingredients in foods today, with several hundred different uses in many products. In its simplest form, flour is ground cereal grains. Flour milling and other ingredients to create a final food product give it very different properties and uses than raw grain.

Food processing includes all methods for processing and preparing drinks and food materials that contain a nutritional value for human consumption. This includes “primary” preparation, secondary processes (such as cooking), and tertiary preparation (table presentation).

The primary sources for processing industry products, like semi-finished and finished food products include meat and meat by-products, seafood, fruits and vegetables, dairy products, grain mill products, eggs and egg derivatives; nuts; sugar cane, and residues such as molasses; raw starch and derived products such as maltodextrin; and a variety of other processed food by-products. All kinds of cereal grains, vegetables, and fruits are processed, including maize, wheat, rice, cassava, etc.

Most processing industries were traditionally not concerned about environmental effects from their processes, but in recent decades many have become increasingly aware of the ecological impacts of their operations, and in some cases have begun to take steps to limit these impacts.

By cleaning processing equipment before operations begin,operators can lower the risk of cross-contamination. By keeping work areas clean, potential sources of contamination are controlled. Proper sanitation is essential for any food processing operation that produces ready-to-eat foods because of bacterial growth and toxin (e.g., Staphylococcus aureus, Clostridium botulinum, Escherichia coli O157:H7) contamination. Industrialized countries, including the United States, incorporate food safety objectives into their quality assurance programs. The goals of these programs include minimizing or eliminating the risk of contamination and preventing cross-contamination.

In a commercial or industrial setting, a food processing operation is usually subject to legal regulation to ensure that the food product conforms to mandated standards for cleanliness and safety. In most developed countries, governments issue licenses that food processing companies must abide by to operate. As part of such regulation, food processing plants are frequently monitored on a routine basis for compliance with sanitation standards.

There are several methods used to process foods:

Thermal processing may include cooking or canning of foods.Thermal processes use heat to destroy microorganisms and food enzymes that cause spoilage. Heat also reduces the risk of life-threatening food poisoning by eliminating microbes present in raw foods.

Thermal processing includes the following methods:

In milling, grains are traditionally coarsely ground into smaller fragments such as grits or meal. In recent years, finer grinds have Become commonplace due to new technology and equipment at flour mills. The standard measure of fineness for grinding wheat is the miller’s percentage of retained particles after each pass through the mill. The worldwide average flour mill retention of particles is 280 or more refined, with North America averaging 350 to 400 and Europe is averaging 600 to 800.

Today food machinery manufactures offer various types of mills for different applications:

This process uses moist heating at temperatures to inactivate microorganisms and enzymes that cause spoilage. This method is used for foods such as dried meats, pepperoni sticks, salami, biltong, beef jerky, corned beef, cured ham, or fish fillets.

This process uses hot moist steam to heat up the food product above boiling point, then the food is allowed to cool before further processing.This process uses hot, dry air to heat the food product above.This method is used for cereals, filamentous fungi, whole dried fruits, and some dehydrated vegetables.

High-pressure processing involves subjecting the packaged foods to pressures of 1500–1800 psi (10.3–12.4 MPa) to inactivate spoilage microorganisms and enzymes that cause food aging or decay. The packaged foods are then unsealed, cooled, and distributed for sale. There is the possibility of the development of “off” flavors due to chemical reactions that take place at high pressures. However, modern high-pressure processing equipment now allows for higher pressures at shorter time intervals. This enhances the safety and quality of the food products.

The aim is to reduce or remove water activity (Aw) to prevent the growth of bacteria such as “Clostridium botulinum.” Food with low moisture content is not favorable for microorganisms that multiply at higher water activities. This method can be applied to a wide range of foods such as bread, cheese, meats, and other protein-rich foods.

This technique is used to remove bacteria from foods by exposing the food to a freezing temperature for a short time. It requires less energy than thermal processing; it is non-destructive and preserves foods’ appearance, taste, nutritional value, and texture.

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