Food Technology: the Past and Present

Food Technology - Food Technology: the Past and Present - In retrospect, it would appear that the founders of Institute of Food Technology (IFT) in the U.S. in the late 1930’s visualized food technology to be essentially concerned with preserved, processed and manufactured foods; this probably happened because they themselves, the originators of a new profession, were involved in the preservation, processing and manufacture of foods or worked for public health authorities with responsibilies for these foods.

The agricultural produce from which thee foods were derived concerned aerly workers as raw materials for these industries and not necessarily as fresh food for the consumer market. Produce for the fresh food market - meat, fish, eggs, fruit and vegetables - were the responsibilities of other specialists, including agricultural engineers who in those early days were less concerned with food process engineering than they are today.

For the same reason, the early food technologists were usually not involved in beer brewing, dairy and cereal products, ecology, fast, sugar and confectionery. Other groups of professional people were concerned with these commodities and they had their own professional organizations and literature well established many years before there were food technologists. Recent years have brought a reversal of this situation and food technology now is considered to embrace all foods.

Speaking of “fresh food” introduces problems of semantics. In this context, “fresh” signifies plant or animal produce in the original state, though it may have been “processed” by packaging or held in cold storage, i.e., the fruit and vegetable as harvested, animal flesh after slaughter, the egg in shell, fish law in the rond and filleted.

The agencies concerned with the management of fresh foods - sorting, grading, packaging, storage, transportation and marketng - now find that qualified food technologists can render valuable service. Progressive teaching institutions are taking note of this situation and plan their programs accordingly.

Foodstuffs have certain levels of nutrients while in the original state. Some are consumed raw, most of them after some culinary treatment. The letter involves certain nutrient losses, with which the public at large is becoming increasingly concerned.

Traditional techniques of food preservation, such us pickling, curing, smoking, fermentation, and drying, as well as the conversion of cereals to baked or pasta products, entail some nutrient losses that do not create concern.

However, there is public disquiet about the potential detrimental nutritional consequences of present-day management of foods, a matter of paramount concern to food technologists.

In the years following the isolation of the major vitamins, the U.S. canned and frozen food industries conducted comprehensive studies of the nutritive quality of their products. Result demonstrated that retention of nutrient value runs parallel with ingredients from which cooks or chefs prepare the dish. Since those days, food processors have taken over a great deal of the work of cook and chef by offering foods in a form more convenient to the consumer or caterer; instead of ingredients for meal preparation, they now can buy the meal partially or completely prepared. Whether or not this development has brought with it nutrient losses to which the consumer had not been exposed previously is not known. Nutritionists have expressed concern that those who developed modern convenience foods and improve the technology of traditional foods or improve storage techniques fail to concern themselves adequtely with the nutritional consequences that may ensue.

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