Food processing, which originated in the prehistoric times, is the set of techniques used to transform raw ingredients into food — or food into other forms — so that they can be preserved, protected from toxic substances, kept fresh and available for longer duration, made fit for consumption by humans or animals, distributed, and marketed. Back in the day, fermenting, sun drying, preserving with salt, and various types of cooking (such as roasting, smoking, steaming, etc.) were commonly used food processing techniques, which predominantly aimed to prevent the rapid decay of food. However, those methods couldn’t boost the longevity of the products. This paved way for newer techniques, such as adding preservatives to enhance the life of food products.
With time, technology evolved and subsequently, more new techniques came up. The old and outdated techniques then took the backseat as food manufacturing industries lapped up the new-age and modern food processing techniques. The modern methods include techniques such as high-pressure processing, irradiation, radio frequency treatment, pulsed electric field technology, light-based technologies, etc. among others, which are used these days. The main advantage of these modern or novel technologies is that they extend the shelf-life and guarantee the safety of fresh foods without affecting taste, appearance and nutritional properties. It helps, especially due to the fact that the modern-day consumer is increasingly choosing fresher and minimally processed products because of his perception of processed foods can be harmful to health.
In this blog, we’ll explore different modern technologies used to process foods with ways to preserve the nutrients, and eliminate anti-nutrients as well as toxins. We’ll also see how a food ERP software can be of help to all the companies involved in food manufacturing business. Continue reading:
Food irradiation: This process involves physical treatment of exposing foods to the direct action of ionizing radiation to improve their safety and prolong shelf-life. In this process, Gama rays emitted by any radioactive substance are chosen to act upon the food substance. These rays penetrate the cells of microbes, damage the genetic material, & render it inefficient for reproduction. However, the method keeps the physical properties of food intact. In fact, the changes made by irradiation are so minimal that it is not easy to tell whether food has been irradiated.
Preservatives: Any “food additive used to protect against decay, discoloration, or spoilage” is known as a preservative. With the increasing need to make the food last both in freshness and flavor, throughout the supply chain, the need for preservatives has also increased. Today, almost every packaged food is likely to contain one or more of them. Preservatives are also called “preventatives,” because they lengthen the shelf-life and the appeal of edibles by preventing the growth of harmful bacteria, preventing oxidation, or inhibiting natural ripening in fruits and veggies. Some common forms of preservatives include antioxidants, acids, salt, spices and oils.
High-pressure processing: In this process, food products are subjected to pressures in the range 100 to 1000 MPa with and without packaging in a pressure vessel capable of sustaining that pressure. Application of uniformly distributed high pressure ultimately kills the microorganism. However, most of the food properties remain unaffected.
Radio Frequency Treatment (RFT): In this technique, the long wavelength of frequency 1 MHz to 300 MHz is passed through food materials, to render them free from microbes. Passing high voltage AC current produces an oscillating electromagnetic field that oscillates the ions present in food due to change in polarity. This sudden rise in heating results in microbial inactivation.
Pulsed Electric Field Technology: This technology of food preservation is based on the ability of high-intensity pulsed electric fields to disrupt cell membranes, resulting in a lethal effect on the microorganisms. The sudden application of Electric field bursts open the cells, causing their death when it increases beyond 1V.
Ultra-sonic spray nozzle system: For many years, spraying ready-to-eat deli meat with antimicrobials to prevent foodborne illness has been a common process. However, getting the precise dosage and covering is necessary for its effectiveness. In order to attain better precision, an ultrasonic spray nozzle system uses 50,000 electronic signals per second to eliminate pressure and create a tighter uniformity in droplet size. This allows for a consistent dosing of up to 1,000 slices per minute.
Light-based technology: This technology, which is still being studied and researched, predominantly will be used to increase food’s shelf life. The use of ultraviolet light, LED lights, and pulsed light and their ability to eliminate bacteria from food products such as fruit juices and milk is still a subject of research. As of now, light-based technologies can break down bacterial cells on the surface. However, the main issue remains with the penetration depth. Once it is more developed, it can be a cost-effective way to eliminate food contaminants without compromising on food quality.
Conclusion: These modern ‘food-safe’ processing technologies are making food safer – from production to consumption – and technology is playing a huge role in it. Take, for example, if we talk about adding preservatives, or certain permitted chemicals for preserving food, you need to know the right quality as well as quantity to add so that you can stick to the safety food standards in order to use them. This is where an ERP steps in, as to stay abreast of the regulatory standards and quality levels, any food processor needs a food ERP software. It allows food processors to define the number of preservatives or chemicals to be added. Besides, an ERP also ensures that the products adhere to the quality and compliance requirements.
In addition, modern food processing is all about automation, digitization, and mobilization; something a modern ERP understands and supports, just like it supports all other aspects of a food processing business like planning, inventory management, warehouse management, processing, packaging, and distribution. One such ERP is BatchMaster ERP for Food & Beverages.