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More Technological Advances Critical for Adequate Food Supply, Review Finds

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

(American Meat Institute)

More technological advances – not fewer -- are critical to ensure a sufficient food supply for the growing global population according to a comprehensive new report from the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT).

The first-of-its-kind scientific review, which will be published in the 2010 issue of Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, summarizes the historical developments of agriculture and food technology, details various food manufacturing methods and explains why food is processed. According to the report, FAO estimates that by 2050, food production must increase by 70 percent – 34% higher than today – to feed the anticipated 9 billion people.

“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,” he said.

The report notes that 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.

The report addresses head-on a growing bias against processed foods 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.  In fact, the report observes that people “process” foods in the home by microwave cooking, dehydrating or even following recipes to bake cakes and casseroles. 

In underdeveloped nations, according to the report, 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 report said. 

Regarding obesity concerns, the report 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.

“With science and technology solutions available to address specific issues throughout the food system, our ability to feed a growing population in a sustainable way, while safeguarding both human and planet health, looks not only possible, but also promising. We must, however, remain steadfast and rational about our approach, to help both humanity and nature,” the report concludes.

To view this report in its entirety, go to http://bit.ly/c3W8ii.

 


 
 

 

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