Food processing is the transformation of raw ingredients, by physical or chemical means into food, or of food into other forms. Food processing combines raw food ingredients to produce marketable food products that can be easily prepared and served by the consumer. Food processing typically involves activities such as mincing and macerating, liquefaction, emulsification, and cooking (such as boiling, broiling, frying, or grilling); pickling, pasteurization, and many other kinds of preservation; and canning or other packaging. (Primary-processing such as dicing or slicing, freezing or drying when leading to secondary products are also included.)
Performance parameters for food processing
When designing processes for the food industry the following performance parameters may be taken into account:
- Hygiene, e.g. measured by number of micro-organisms per mL of finished product
- Energy efficiency measured e.g. by “ton of steam per ton of sugar produced”
- Minimization of waste, measured e.g. by “percentage of peeling loss during the peeling of potatoes”
- Labour used, measured e.g. by “number of working hours per ton of finished product”
- Minimization of cleaning stops measured e.g. by “number of hours between cleaning stops”
- Reduction of fat content in final product by using baking instead of deep-frying in the production of potato chips, another processed food.
- Maintaining the natural taste of the product by using less artificial sweetener than was used before.
- Rising energy costs lead to increasing usage of energy-saving technologies, e.g. frequency converters on electrical drives, heat insulation of factory buildings and heated vessels, energy recovery systems, keeping a single fish frozen all the way from China to Switzerland.
- Factory automation systems (often Distributed control systems) reduce personnel costs and may lead to more stable production results.