Processing food is a science-based industry that requires extensive knowledge of microbiology, chemistry, and physical properties of different foods as well as agricultural goods. It is also necessary to design machines that are capable of processing and packaging food items on the scale required.
The article below will discuss many of the popular methods employed in the food industry or packaging for bottled and jarred packaged goods in USA.
TRADITIONAL FOOD PROCESSING METHODS ARE in use to this day
Food processing is among the most ancient industries on the planet. For as long as we have created food, we’ve had to find ways to process it for optimal nutrition, longer storage time, and better taste. A few of the most fundamental food processing techniques are found from a campfire in the open to an industrial-scale processing facility.
- The cooking process is the most common type of processing. The heat is generated through a variety of techniques like grilling, baking, or roasting, as well as frying. Each of these processes requires materials that can withstand the various degrees of heat without degrading or releasing toxic substances into food.
- Drying Is one of the oldest methods of preservation of food. While sun-drying has been practiced for many thousands of years, today’s plants use techniques such as freezing dry (see the next section below).
- Smoking Is an additional simple but efficient method of preserving a large range of food items. Industrial-scale smoking requires massive smoking chambers that can hold huge amounts of food at one time.
- Fermentation Is the chemical process triggered by microorganisms, including bacteria, like yeasts, in oxygen-deficient (no oxygen) environments. Alongside its renowned usage in alcoholic drinks, it is also used to produce products such as sauerkraut, yogurts, as well as bread yeast.
- “Pickling: this process can refer to vinegar or brine immersion. The main feature of this method is a pH that is sufficient to kill the majority of bacteria. In traditional pickling methods, antimicrobial herbs such as mustard seed and garlic are also included in the mixture. Brine can also draw out moisture from food items, thus enhancing preservation. Pickling has been used since at least in the Indus Valley civilization, which was around 2400 BC.
- Salting/Curing This procedure is similar to brine made from pickles. However, it makes use of dry salt, which is typically on meats. Salting was the primary method of preserving meats prior to the invention of refrigeration. Salt draws water from the meat in order to drastically reduce the risk of spoilage.
While these techniques are employed (in an extremely advanced and scaled-up manner) in industrial food processing, modern food processing companies have developed completely new processes.
Advanced Food Processing Methods for Food
Certain industrial versions of food processing (like conveyorized ovens) are simply bigger-scale versions of traditional methods for processing food. However, the technology made available to industrial-scale food processors has provided entirely new opportunities for food processing.
- Freezing Flash Freezing, Freeze Drying freezing drastically increases shelf-life and freshness for many different foods, and methods like flash-freezing aid in preparing food items at high production speed and in large quantities.
- Irradiation Exposing food items to ionizing radiation may improve the safety of food as well as delay the sprouting process of plant foods as well as help in the control of insects as well as other pests.
- Pasteurization In this method, developed 1864 by Louis Pasteur in 1864, food is quickly heated before cooling, which is a proven method of eliminating harmful microorganisms.
- High-Pressure Processingsometimes also known as Pascalization. This process is used to prepare food items under high-pressure conditions, which eliminates a variety of bacteria, increasing quality, and shelf life. This is beneficial due to the efficiency of its power source, reduced processing time, as well as the absence of any additives. This relatively new method was developed and first used commercially in the late 1990s and is currently being refined.
- Extrusion Mixed components are pushed through an open, forming the shape of a continuous line that is then cut to a certain size using a knife. This process can be used to produce a large number of food products that can easily be cut into size after it has been made.
- Packages with modified atmospheric properties: the air inside a package is able to be replaced with the use of a gas mix, especially that is designed to prevent the process of spoilage, increase shelf-life and increase the safety of food items.
- Chemical additives: Along with vitamins, antioxidants can help stop oil from turning rancid. Emulsifiers can prevent items like salad dressings to prevent them from segregating into water and oil within the container.
Food Packaging Equipment and Equipment
The packaging options that are used for packaging food are as varied as the food. Examples include cans, bags, trays, coated paper cans, pallets, and plastic wrap.
For most food items, there are multiple packaging methods that are required for every edible item, for example, the frozen food item that comes that is packaged with a tray, the plastic wrap, or an outer box (and that’s a lot of packaging equipment for an assembly line). To pack processed food items on large scales, the food businesses employ a variety of equipment that is specialized.