Food processing (processing techniques, preservation, additives, packaging)

Food processing (processing techniques, preservation, additives, packaging)

Food Processing Techniques

  • Food processing encompasses a variety of techniques used to transform raw ingredients into food, or to change food into other types for consumption.
  • Common processes include mincing, liquefaction, emulsification, cooking (baking, broiling, frying), and vacuum-pack cooking.
  • Some methods create longer-lasting foods, like canning, freezing, and dehydration. They reduce spoilage from natural biological activity.
  • Preservation is used to extend the shelf life of the food. Techniques include canning, freezing, and dehydrating.
  • Pasteurisation (a process of heating food to a specific temperature to kill off certain bacteria) and Ultra High Temperature (UHT) processing (a heat treatment method which sterilises liquid food) are used to ensure microbiological safety.

Food Additives

  • Additives are substances added to food to maintain or improve its suitability.
  • These can be flavourings, colours, antioxidants, preservatives, sweeteners, emulsifiers, stabilizers, and thickeners.
  • They are regulated by law and must be approved for safety before they can be used.
  • Additives must be listed in the ingredients and identified either by their name or with their E number (a reference number given by the European Union).
  • A common misconception is that the “E” in E numbers stands for “bad” or “harmful”. This isn’t true. It simply means that the substance has passed safety tests and been approved for use in the EU.

Food Packaging

  • In food processing, packaging serves several functions: it protects food from outside influences and damage, contains the food, and provides information to consumers about its content and how to prepare and use the food.
  • Materials used in packaging include glass, metals (aluminium, foils and laminates, tinplate, and tin-free steel), paper and board, and plastics.
  • Some types of plastic have been identified as potential health risks, such as those containing Bisphenol A (BPA).
  • New trends in packaging include biodegradable packaging materials and smart packaging (which tells consumers about the freshness of the food).