Food manufacturing or processing is the set of methods used to transform ingredients into food or perhaps change the form of the food itself. Examples of these techniques can include:
The way butchered animal products or harvested crops are used to produce marketable food products are examples of food manufacturing, as is the way ready meals, that then have to be re-heated before eating, are produced.
Advantages and Disadvantages Gary McGaghey
There are both advantages and disadvantages with food manufacturing. Some of the most obvious advantages include…
- Improved taste of the food
- Extended seasonal availability
- Extended shelf-life
For example, fruit and vegetables can only be picked when they are ripe, but if they are canned or frozen they keep longer. The longer shelf lives reduce food waste and perishable foods are now able to be transported to wider areas.
Manufacturing the food also makes them safer, reducing incidences of illness caused by eating the food – for example, many farm-based products can contain potentially deadly microorganisms but the manufacturing process will eliminate these. Processed food can also cater to the needs of individuals who suffer from certain allergies.
One of the biggest disadvantages with food manufacturing is that there will be a large effect on the nutritional density of the food product as it has been proved that, although it varies from product to product, up to a fifth of the nutrients may be lost.
An example of how a nutrient may be lost is heat destroying the content of Vitamin C in canned fruit. The manufacturing process adds unhealthy ingredients to improve taste and a high consumption rate of these products can cause an individual’s taste buds to dull as for example they become used to the taste of refined sugar. The high calorie content of the manufactured food, especially given the lack of nutrients, can lead to obesity.
If the food manufacturing industry ceased to exist, there would be benefits with an absence of junk food, a reduction in obesity levels leading to a healthier population with less associated illness such as diabetes and heart disease and there would also be a reduction in pollution levels from fertilisers and pesticides.
However there would be a much reduced food supply, a potential increase in infectious diseases, the supermarkets as we know them would no longer exist and the result would be monotonous diets and potentially famine. As we have seen there are very much two sides to the food manufacturing story and it is all about getting the balance right.