Food Processing - Concept


Ajit Kumar AJIT KUMARWISDOM IAS, New Delhi.

Food processing encompasses all the steps that food goes through from the time it is harvested to the time it arrives on consumer’s plate.
According to Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), processed foods can be classified into three types (1) Primary (2) Secondary and (3) Tertiary. The primary processing include basic cleaning, grading and packaging as in case of fruits and vegetables. Secondary processing includes alteration of the basic product to a stage just before the final preparation as in case of milling of paddy to rice. Tertiary processing leads to a high value-added ready-to eat food like bakery products, instant foods, health drinks, etc.
Traditional food processing had two functions: to make food more digestible and to preserve food during times of scarcity. Most crops are seasonal. There are times of the year when either glut can result in high levels of wastage or shortages can arise if adequate measures are not taken to preserve and store the foods. This is particularly important in areas that have a dry season or winter period when crops cannot be grown and animals are slaughtered because of a lack of fodder. In these situations stored dry grains or root crops provide energy; dried, salted or smoked meats, or cheeses provide a source of protein, vitamins and minerals; and processed fruits and vegetables such as pickles, chutneys or dried fruits or leaves provide vitamins and minerals.
A few crops, including cassava and some types of beans also contain poisons or anti-nutritional components, which must be removed by processing to make the food safe to eat.
Hence, Food processing enables to maintain the health of the human beings throughout the year by increasing its food security. By processing food, it can be customized to suit the nutritional requirements of groups such as the elderly, pregnant women, infants, young children and athletes. Such foods are characterized by a balanced composition of energy suppliers in the form of fats, carbohydrates and proteins, and by a cocktail of vitamins and minerals composed according to the current state of scientific knowledge.
Food processing is a route to creating sustainable livelihoods and economic development for rural communities. Sophisticated technologies define modern food production. They include many areas. Agricultural machinery, led by the tractor, has reduced the human labor in many areas of production. Biotechnology is driving much change, in areas as diverse as agrochemicals, plant breeding and food processing. Many other areas of technology are also involved, to the point where it is hard to find an area that does not have a direct impact on the food industry. Computer technology is also a central force, with computer networks and specialized software providing the support infrastructure to allow global movement of the myriad components involved
Modern food processing has three major aims: - To make food safe (microbiologically, chemically). - To provide products of the highest quality (flavor, color, texture) - To make food into forms that are convenient (ease of use)
However, the art and science of food processing has come a long way in the last few decades. The ever changing lifestyles, food habits and tastes of customers’ world over are making the food plate look different from what it was yesterday.

Wednesday, 23rd Dec 2015, 01:09:51 AM

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