More technology needed to satisfy food needs

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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WASHINGTON – To ensure a sufficient food supply for the growing global population, more technological advances are needed, according to a new study from the Institute of Food Technologists (I.F.T.). The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (F.A.O.) estimates by 2050, food production must increase by 70% – 34% higher than today – to feed the anticipated 9 billion people, the study reveals.

The study will be published in the 2010 issue of Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety and will summarize the historical developments of agriculture and food technology, including food manufacturing methods

“Thanks to food science and technology and modern food manufacturing methods, nutritional deficiencies and inconsistent food availability can be addressed, harvests can be protected and various commodities can be transformed into new products having specific nutrients for better health and wellness,” said John Floros, Ph.D., of the Pennsylvania State University Department of Food Science. “However, this success has distanced consumers from the agricultural origins of today’s food products and understanding of why processing is important. As a result, there are concerns and misconceptions regarding food safety, and the food system’s effect on health and the environment.”

Advances in agriculture and food science and technology have provided reduction in nutrient deficiency-related diseases; enhanced food safety and consistent quality; decreased home food-preparation time; a large variety of delicious food choices; reduced food waste; lower household food costs than ever before; food and meal convenience options; products specifically formulated to meet the nutritional needs of specific subpopulations; and efficient global food distribution, which can be exploited in times of natural and man-made disasters, according to the study.

An increasing bias against processed foods is addressed in the study detailing the reasons for processing and the benefits that processed foods offer: preservation, extending the harvest in a safe and stable form; safety; quality; availability; convenience; innovation; health and wellness; and sustainability. People “process” foods in the home by microwave cooking, dehydrating or even following recipes to bake cakes and casseroles, the study says. In underdeveloped nations, as much as half of the food produced never gets consumed because of lacking packaging, processing and distribution methods.

“Although the private sector carries out these processes and delivers the final product to the consumer, public investment in generating the science and engineering base necessary to continue the creativity and ultimate application of new technologies is clearly warranted,” the study states.

In covering obesity concerns, the study says food manufacturers have been able to provide many more options than were available years ago for consumers who seek to manage their weight. These options include food and beverage products with reduced caloric density and packaging as a component of portion control.

To read the entire report, visit http://bit.ly/c3W8ii.
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