The Purpose of Processing Food
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)
Insuring the safety of food involves careful control of the process from the farm gate to the consumer. Safety includes control of both chemical and microbiological characteristics of the product. Most processing places emphasis on microbial control, and often has as its objective the elimination of organisms or prevention of their growth.
Processes that are aimed at prevention of growth include:
Control of water activity (addition of salt, sugars, polyols, etc.)
Processes that are aimed at minimizing organisms include:
Cleaning and sanitizing
A further method of processing that is aimed at the control of undesirable microflora is the deliberated addition of microorganisms and the use of fermentation.
Safety from a chemical viewpoint generally relates to keeping undesirable chemicals, such as pesticides, insecticides and antibiotics out of the food supply.
Making sure that food products are free from extraneous mater (metal, glass, wood, etc.) is another facet of food safety.
Quality of a food product involves maintenance (or improvement) of the key attributes of the product – including color, flavor and texture.
To maintain quality it is important to control:
Today’s consumers want food products that are convenient to use and still have all the qualities of a fresh product.