Processed foods have definitely changed our eating habits and have greatly impacted our lifestyles as well. In the modern hectic world where life moves on roller skates, more and more people are getting less time to sit down to elaborately prepared lunches or dinners. It is eating on the go and thus the much preferred option is food that takes the minimum time to prepare. This is basically the heart of processed food. Stock up on these quick fixes from supermarket shelves, heat them for a minute or two and a meal is ready.
Apart from this convenience factor, there is another aspect to processed foods. You will get all types of food round the year, regardless of the season that they are grown. Frozen and canned vegetables grown specifically in summer are available in winter too. This has changed food habits which are now open to all types of food round the year. Most importantly, advanced processing techniques ensure that these stay fresh and nutritious for extended periods of time. Some instances in this regard are UHT milk and ready-to-eat meat and fish. Check photos on Instagram of the many varieties of processed foods available in the market and you will be amazed at the range and tamper proof packing that they are protected in.
Processed food helps to preserve the quality of food because of the various treatments it is subjected to. Some foods are subjected to high temperatures to destroy bacteria and then quickly frozen to seal in nutrition values. Additives are also used to preserve foods for long periods and protect them from fungus and bacteria. Finally, high quality packaging both in metal and cardboard ensures tamper proof safeguarding of food.
There are some types of processed foods that have to be kept constantly at certain temperatures while others may be stacked at room temperatures. Still others need to be refrigerated once the packaging is opened. You can see these details on photos on Pinterest on business websites of those in the food processing industry. Supermarkets make necessary arrangements for storing according to the type of food and you should read the instructions on the label too for specific directives. To ensure integrity of processed foods, stockists have to keep themselves updated on the latest technologies in this sector as well as have their staff trained by experts on the need for following certain set norms for handling processed foods. It is advisable that such leadership and development programmes be conducted by leading HR training professionals. One of the first names that come to mind is Shannon Pigram, a renowned leader in creating and conducting advanced training and development courses.
There is a myth that foods lose their nutrition value during processing. This in fact is not at all true. In fact some are more nutritious than their natural state. For instance, green vegetables are often processed within hours of harvesting, sometimes at factories built in large farms. This helps to seal in the full content of vitamins and minerals. In some foods like wheat bread and breakfast cereals, additional nutrients are added thereby enriching the quality of these foods. Hence it cannot be said definitely that processed food are deficient in minerals and vitamins found at source in natural food.
Another wrong notion about processed food is that the additives and preservatives added to them is not regulated and hence harmful in nature. The truth is that additives are used to guarantee that food does not get putrid, retain nutrition values and enhances taste. For example, anti-oxidants stop oil turning rancid in food that contains it.
On the whole, processed food is safe, tasty, nutritious and most importantly convenient to use.
In the early stages of the food processing industry safety standards were so appallingly poor that people routinely got killed, maimed or injured. Journalist Upton Sinclair’s book “The Jungle” offered a look into the horrors of Chicago’s meat processing industry leading to massive reforms in this sector. But fool proof safety mechanisms have still not been put in place and accidents do take place in this industry.
Here are some of the areas in the food processing industry that raises concerns –
- Machine hazards – In spite of hi-tech machines being introduced in this sector accidents do happen. It is estimated that about 2,500 workers are injured and 700 killed every year in the USA alone. Accidents are generally related to falling structures, workers being exposed to moving parts and compressed equipment. There is a general school of thought that advocates that hi-tech machines are hazardous if not handled properly. This is somewhat true and an example from another completely unrelated sector will bear this out. Take the example of the beauty care sector and an IPL hair removal machine for sale in Melbourne or anywhere else. Like machinery in the food processing industry such an IPL machine has technologically advanced features but in the hands of untrained technicians can cause great harm to patients.
Hence, for food processing units, employers should put great emphasis on training to workers, both in handling sophisticated machines as well safety measures to be followed.
- Release of Ammonia – Anhydrous ammonia is a common refrigerant in food processing sector especially in juice and soft drink and meat processing units. Exposure to ammonia can be extremely hazardous as the gas is corrosive in nature, inflammable and explosive if it ignites in closed spaces. Ammonia also damages the eyes, skin and lungs. For protecting workers from any harm, employers should properly designate dangerous areas that are susceptible to leaks and provide suitable clothing and gas marks as a safety precaution.
- Other safety measures – Apart from these specific areas in the food processing industry managers and employers should follow certain common preventive measures. Danger signs should be put up in accident prone areas where there is a likelihood of injuries. Warning signs are a notch below Danger signs and can be placed in areas not hazardous enough to warrant it. Finally, there are Caution signs describe situations that might lead to minor injuries if not followed.
These are some of the common safety hazards in the food processing industry though the extent of risk varies from unit to unit.
Food processing typically is the transformation of cooked ingredients into food or other forms through a process that involves physical or chemical means. The main focus is to make food into an easily marketable product that the consumer can easily prepare and serve. There are various processes involved in it such as liquefaction, emulsification, mincing, macerating, boiling and frying. These are called the secondary stages of preparation while the primary stage of making the ingredients fit for processing are dicing, slicing, drying or freezing. The final section is of course preservation, packaging and canning.
There are many benefits of processed food. Toxins are removed and the food is preserved through chemical treatme4nts that ensures food consistency over long periods. Additionally, easily perishable food and fruits can be transported over long distances as the risk of contamination is nullified through processing. See the shelf of super markets and you will find cans and packages of processed food from the other end of the world. This also helps to solve the problems usually associated with storing fresh food and alleviates possible food shortages. During natural disasters like earthquakes and floods, it is processed food that enables people to survive before getting back returning to normal life.
If you were setting up a food processing plant in the state of say Victoria, what would be your first task? Apart from contacting Melbourne business lawyers to go through the contracts and other legal and statutory formalities, it would be looking for suitable equipment to set up your processing facilities. You can either buy equipment off the shelf or second hand depending on your financial standing and the type of food that you want to process.
Here is a list of the broad categories of food processing machinery.
- Depositors –These are machines that precisely measure and deposit the finished product into packaging. These can range from biscuits and cookies to salad dressing, from sandwich fillings to mustard and mayonnaise, honey, marmalade or salsas. These are the same machines that are used for non-food items too like shampoos or gels.
- Extruders – Processed food is a very competitive industry and hence businesses are opting for more and more complex offerings to stay ahead in the race as well as to match consumer preferences. Single or twin crew extrusion machines are used to mould out-of-the-ordinary shapes topped up by multi-flavoured exotic flavours and fillings. In bakery food items, multiple screw extrusion machines are used for virtually any colour and filling like creams, chocolate praline and fruit pastes.
- Mixers – These is a wide range of applications for Mixers which are used in almost every sector of the food processing industry. These include agitators, Emulsifiers, meat mixers, paste mixers, powder mixers, ribbon mixers, viscous product mixers and Z blade mixers. Dough mixers, Homogenisers and in line mixers are some of the other types of mixers used in food processing.
- Refrigerators – This is very crucial for the food processing sector. Some manufacturing processes do need temperatures to be lowered to almost zero degree conditions. Equipment needed for this include blast freezers, continuous chillers, immersion chillers, scraped surface chillers, spiral freezers and vacuum chillers. Refrigeration equipment is also an integral part of logistics when packaged items have to be kept refrigerated over long distances from the factory to the warehouses.
These are some of the basic equipment that you have to get if you want to start off in the food processing industry.
Before going into the various job profiles for food industries per se, it is important to know what it is all about. The rise of the food industry can be attributed to the fact that food do not come from the source to the table directly. Food grains or livestock have to be processed before they are sold and this is what the food processing industry is based on. This sector is engaged in transforming raw materials into food through either chemical or physical means. It is also a method which helps consumers easily get food in the final edible form.
Some of the primary food processing activities includes emulsification, liquefaction, mincing, pickling, pasteurization and other forms of food preservation. Even cooked food that has been packed after boiling, grilling, broiling or frying can be picked off super market shelves thanks to the food processing industry.
There are two reasons why personnel for the food industries should be hired with care. The first is because there is a matter of hygiene and those involved in the process should ensure this at every step. Secondly, the food should be processed in a manner that makes sure that none of the nutrients or food value is lost. It is because of this reason that the food processing industry has slowly become automated and technologically highly advanced. Job profiles in this sector therefore have to be selected with great care.
The best way to do so is to go through agencies for labour hire in Melbourne. Business consultants employed there are fully conversant with the requirements of food processing and what qualifications and training are required to match the bill. For example, First Personnel, one of the leading labour recruitment companies in the city has long years of experience in selecting job profiles that exactly match the specific needs of the food industry.
Some of the crucial profiles for this sector are –
- Manufacturing Specialist – As in most manufacturing businesses, a specialist in this field in the food industry takes care of maintenance of machinery, trouble shooting and providing training to raw recruits. Advice is also provided to owners of technological advancements made in this sector and the need for upgrading facilities if required.
- Food production Managers – They are responsible for the total process of food processing and its procedures and facilities. Their job profiles include supervision of workers and monitoring the quality of products at the plants that turn vegetables, livestock, seafood and other food raw materials into products that consumers buy.
- Food scientist – He is the person who is trained in the science of food. It involves being aware of the physical, chemical and biological composition of food as well as the concepts and methods that make processed food safe for human consumption. A food scientist will apply his knowledge and expertise in areas such as selection of food and its safe preservation, processing, packaging and distribution.
These are specialist job profiles in the food industry. Apart from this, there will be the usual workers who are engaged in this work similar to any manufacturing sector.
The food processing industry has seen an exponential growth in the past couple of decades, primarily because of the convenience it offers consumers. Packed and preserved food items bought off super market shelves is simply a “heat and eat” activity. However, being fully dependent on such stuff is definitely not advisable as food has to be preserved with chemicals. There is after all no substitute for fresh food.
The act of transforming raw materials by external means into edible matter is called food processing. It can be either through physical or chemical processes by which food products are made into a marketable form. The activity may be mincing and macerating, emulsification and liquefaction or even the various stages of cooking such as frying, grilling and broiling. Food products also have to go through a preservation process which includes pasteurization and pickling after which in the final stage, the finished product is canned and packed. Dicing, slicing, drying and freezing of the basic materials is a part of the preliminary stages of food processing.
There are many benefits of processing food. It makes the food safe for consumption by removing toxins and preserving it in very hygienic processes. Hence, delicate perishable items can be processed and dispatched over long distances without the possibility of it becoming stale or spoiled. Without a robust food processing industry, super markets would not exist and neither would carrying food across the globe be possible. Processed foods also help in equitable distribution of edible articles. Nutrition needs of population in famine hit or food deficient countries can be quickly met with processed foods sent from another corner of the globe.
Finally, a very important takeaway of processed food is that people from one part of the globe get to taste novel and exotic food from another. Hence, the modern consumer has a wider choice of what to eat than past generations.