Solving Problems in Food Engineering (Food Engineering Series)

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Firstly, the paper deals with the functions of food processing and their historical development and impact. Addressing the role and function of food processing for the general design principles of food products in detail allows the identification of short-comings and missing technology. From this analysis, it becomes clear that the health-related design principle lacks stronger support from food processing. This leads to the question as to how new and emerging technologies close the gaps identified and how they relate to requirements of nutritional qualities of products.

Finally, we address the recent discussion of simplified classification systems, e. The discussions about nutritional impact of food processing and its according classification underline the need for clarification on terminologies and processes, as well as on the need for information, stressing the role of processing in ensuring a safe, functional and nutritional food supply.

The need for clarification on processing gains more weight through the substantial market importance of food processing.

Unit Operations in Food Processing

While the objective of processing of food is the provision of a safe and nutritional food supply, the ways to achieve this are manifold and have undergone rapid development in recent times 4. The function of food processing contributes to all stages of food making from raw material, ingredients and the production of the final product. It is not only confined to the last step from the formulation premix to end product 5. Moreover, it relates closely to cooking and gastronomic food manipulations as Aguilera pointed out in his comprehensive review 6.

The versatility of food processing techniques and solutions also adapt to the varied needs of food producers worldwide. Throughout the human evolution, humans and their ancestors were confronted with difficulties to get to foods or to eat them in the raw state.

Unit Operations in Food Engineering - CRC Press Book

As omnivorous species they lacked any specialization of a speedy predator nor did they efficiently digest plant materials. For this reason, humans have searched and with ingenuity they have developed means, tools and technologies to improve food availability, digestibility, safety, transportability, and storage life 7. Recent studies estimate the first use of fire between 2 million and , years ago.

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Fire and cooking allowed unlocking of caloric energy and access to nutrients 8 , 9. Support for the thesis that changes in diets and the invention of cooking supported the growth of our brain to host 86 billion neurons comes from recent neuroscience studies Starting with the invention of agriculture, food processing set off to a broad development of unit operations and processes embracing all edible food sources 4 , Technologies like refrigeration, pasteurization, sterilization and canning rank even under the most significant inventions in the history of food and drink in the UK Royal Society member and expert voting Already from the beginning, food processing was directed toward making foods safe, transportable, and retaining their dietary values trough storage.

Fire and first preservation techniques e. Population growth through improved agricultural yield, for example, crop rotation, demanded more extensive and more efficient preservation technology. McLachlan has proposed four major areas which food technology and its processing abilities were developing in McLachlan 13 :. The industrial revolution saw pasteurization and sterilization Pasteur and Appert augmenting the scope and power of food preservations in the 19th century. Using cooling, ancient Romans, and Chinese applied ice blocks and snow to preserve delicate foodstuff Stockfish, salmon and herring trades throughout medieval times depended on drying, smoking, but mostly on salting methods to make large traded quantities transportable A non-negotiable basic principle guides food production: safety of food.

The historical development of food technology is a key witness to solutions for this primordial prerequisite. However, from safe food production, particular products are produced in various forms and different kinds. They share a group of interdependent design principles that represent consumer preference areas. While the impact assessment of food processing on nutrition is already available, the inverse guiding information is missing. What do nutrition and healthy diets demand from food processing?

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Knorr also recently stressed the requirements needed to gain consumer trust and acceptance The processing group of the European Technology Platform: Food for Life ETP , a European food research vision document, introduced the PAN reverse engineering concept, suggesting that food processes must adapt to the preferences, acceptance, and needs of the consumers rather than adapting raw materials to the process requirements as previously applied McLachlan's list of food technology developments 13 can be matched up with the five design principles.

The processing technologies support designs within the five domains. However, the comparison clearly shows that the technologies might have beneficial or adverse effects on a specific design. State-of-the-art product development tries to balance all design principles, keeping the trade-off as small as possible.

Historically, the food industry has concentrated its efforts mainly in the design of highly palatable and convenient foods throughout the last 50 years. Despite the long history of food processes, the above discussions and analysis make it clear that the future demands new food processes, unit operations, and production technologies. Fortunately, a large variety of novel and emergent unit operations are at disposal for the use in reduced and efficient processing of foods.

However, pre-cut and pre-prepared consumer food products also appeared on the retail shelves A widely accepted definition is that minimal-processing technologies are modern techniques that provide sufficient shelf life to foods to allow their transport and distribution, while also meeting the consumer demands for convenience and fresh-like quality However, critical voices raised concerns against the industrial practice of minimal processing.

Minimal processing has been the answer to the problem of keeping and, if possible, increasing the nutritional quality of foods.

Food Engineering Today - José M Aguilera

The term covers a large group of different technologies, all trying to reduce nutrient degradation during production and storage. The critical feature of minimal processing is the lower thermal load during unit operations to protect fragile food components e.

However, calibrating the impact of a given technology on the preservation of nutritional quality is not an easy undertaking. The technical criteria deciding the analysis of the naturalness of a food ingredient could determine a lower limit that could be more easily achieved.

Technologies fulfilling the requirements of the standard could form a positive list of minimal processing unit operations by simultaneously achieving the required food safety standards. Furthermore, food profiling and descriptor methodologies could provide quantitative assessment of the loss of nutritional quality To accomplish the basis of any food product development producing safe food, a variety of physical technologies are available.

Table 1 provides an overview of critical non-thermal technologies, including emerging ones that are distinguished by their non-thermal process nature. The table also contains the current status of development with descriptions of advantages and disadvantages in their application. Their application provides gentle and efficient processing of raw materials, ingredients to complete products 26 — It perforates cell membranes and leads to high killing rates at lower temperatures 31 — The targeting of biological properties of raw materials permits a paradigm shift in food processing.

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Using edible oils instead of hexane allows for exchanging the PUFA oils against the carrier oil. Vegetable oils have the same physicochemical solvability as hexane but exhibit lower solvability of biological molecules e. A bio-guided extraction process results in a clear finalized oil product directly usable in-line production The same concept transfers easily to other processing operations.

As mentioned in the European Vision document for food research ETP , two key drivers are at play for an adapted food technology This approach matches both adequate processing means with consumer needs expressed in C. Examples of applying targeted technologies for creating a defined structure for providing tailor-made foods in areas, such as reduction of salt, sugar, and oil in foods, have been given by Janositz et al.

It presents the current future-oriented strategy of the European Union. Other recent essential agenda points of European food science and technology include, transparency and integration of the food chain 20 , 38 , traceability and authenticity of our food supply 39 , sustainability as an integral part of food processing 16 , 19 , 40 , 41 and realization of the need for inter-disciplinary research Recent consumer trends turn toward a stronger emphasis of the food-health balance of products.

Food Processing at a Crossroad

Combining an existing food profiling system with processing related food descriptors permits the judgment of the trade-offs of food processing on the design of food products. The term coined by Monteiro classifies food products by the processing during their production 43 — Monteiro and his collaborators declare those products as nutritionally empty and health-wise hazardous. The classification using this term should allow consumers to select healthy products that use a decreased intensity of processing during their production 43 , 46 , The proponents of this new term use it to point to the processing of foods as one of the causes for non-communicable diseases e.

This relation underlines the need for clarification on terminologies and processes as well as the need for information, stressing the role of processing in ensuring a safe, functional, and nutritional food supply. Monteiro and collaborators developed a novel classification system from the distinction between processed and unprocessed food.


The NOVA classification comprises four classes of foods of increasing processing intensities. The definition does not refer to processing or unit operations used during production of the described food products at all, but still remains in the realm of nutritional compositions and puts the emphasis on formulation and additives. Importantly, the consumer must be able to extrapolate the diminished nutritional quality from the presence of an additive or in-process or storage generated compound in a product Only then does it count for the class of ultra-processed foods.

The NOVA classification builds on the idea that extended amounts of sugar, salt and fat, but also the use of additives, is the critical distinction against industrial processing of foods but not in any other form of food making. Table 2 summarizes examples of foods falling in the different classes of unprocessed or minimally processed foods and ultra-processed foods Food products as stand-in examples for selected industrial processing [after 44 ]. Martinez et al. This statement is most confusing to any food scientist because the applied categorization is not based on the extent or purpose of processing.

More recently, Martinez et al.

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  4. In consequence, this would mean that the use of additives including added sugar and salt , rather than the right food processing of agricultural raw material, determines the characteristics of ultra-processed foods. This definition would strangely and instantly transform a minimally processed yogurt into an ultra-processed product when the consumer sweetens it with additional sugar. The NOVA classification should function as a replacement for nutritional and dietary guidelines with the goal of aiding the consumers in making healthier food choices.

    An appraisal of this new classification system has to start with a comparison against other existing food classification systems based on food processing. Gibney et al. Moreover, there is no mention of cut-offs per gram or portion or energy of defining food components of salt, sugar, fat, and additives.

    Furthermore, Gibney et al. A further food classification system exists, which emphasize food processing in their classification schemes. The EPIC European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition consortium based their direct coding of individual foods and meal components on the degree of food processing The EPIC consortium applied their classification across a wide variety of cultures and gastronomic traditions.

    It comprises a large number of descriptors for different aspects of food processing 25 , 53 , 55 , The availability of broad and versatile food coding systems oriented to processing reveals the simplistic and contrasting approach of the NOVA classification scheme. Nova classification does not substitute epidemiological studies for ingredient impacts on public health-related issues.

    Finally, Gibney et al. Various combinations between food profiling systems and food descriptor databases, like LangaL, are available. The thesaurus of LangaL comprises a very detailed list of food descriptors for processing terms. LangaL provides a high resolution in its description of food items to which compositional and dietary quality data can be associated for guideline purposes 18 , 25 , 38 , 57 — As Gibney et al.