What is Food Processing and It's Advatages and Disadvantages - Tips

Consumers today are asking more and more questions about the relationship between food and health. They face an increasing number of food choices in the marketplace. They also hear conflicting reports about new ways of eating. Today, we will discuss subjects that you may have questions about, like food processing.

What really is Food Processing? Almost every food you see in a store has been processed in some way. Fluid milk has either been pasteurized and homogenized before being placed in the dairy case, or it has been evaporated, condensed, or dried before being put on the grocery shelf. Flour has been milled. Vegetables and fruits have been blanched and frozen, or canned. Coffee may have been freeze-dried.

Processing refers to all the steps used in preparing and keeping food safe for human consumption. Some consumers process their own foods at home. They freeze, can, or dry produce grown in their own gardens. Or prepare quantities of homemade baked goods to freeze, make jams and jellies, or make homemade biscuits mixes to store for convenience. Most processing, however, is done by industry.

Advantages

Processing has advantages for the consumer:
  • Processing makes a large volume of food available to the public, in a country where a small percentage of people produce most of the food.
  • Processing turns some foods into an edible form. Some agricultural products, such as wheat, cannot be eaten without first being processed.
  • Preservation methods, such as canning or freezing, prolong the shelf life of foods, such as fresh vegetables and fruits, which are quite perishable.
  • Some processing methods make food safe to eat. For example, when milk is pasteurized, harmful bacteria are destroyed.
  • Processing offers convience.
  • Some processing methods improve the nutritional value of the diet.
Disadvantages

Processing also has disadvantages:

  • Some vitamins and minerals are lost during processing. Some processing methods destroy more nutrients than others do. Some foods are overrefined-- many nutrients are destroyed. And many processed foods contain excessive quantities of salt and sugar. On average, however, many processing methods do not significantly decrease the nutritional value of the food.
  • Processed foods in convenience form, like frozen dinners, often cost more than the unprocessed counterpart. As a consumer, you pay for the food plus the processing service. In some cases, however, such as the refining of flour, it may cost more to do it yourself.
  • The quality of food changes when food is processed. For some people, these changes make the apperance and texture of processed food less appealing.

The effects of processing are under constant investigation. Processes that are use have been tested and found safe. Risks may exist, however, that are yet unknown.

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