Food engineering is a comprehensive food technology field involving the various disciplines of food science, agriculture, microbiology, chemistry, and engineering. Using careful research methods, high-tech equipment and sophisticated processes, food process engineering covers the entire gamut from procuring raw food materials to processing them into food products to preserving, packaging and delivering the food products to the consumer market. The engineering of food, particularly in the form of genetic food engineering, is a huge enterprise needed to feed growing world populations, and this means there will be a steep increase in these jobs in the coming years.
In genetic food engineering, genetically cultivated produce is used to manufacture food products of certain required characteristics. A good example would be using vitamin-enriched, genetically engineered tomatoes for tomato-based foods. Such engineering may be the answer to providing world populations with adequate levels of nutrition, but there is quite a bit on controversy about the long-term health implications of genetic foods. The issue may be alleviated to an extent if genetic engineered foods are clearly labeled as such and consumers are allowed to know exactly what they are purchasing. At present, such labeling is not common practice.
Producing safe and nutritious food for human and animal consumption is one of the principal aims of food engineering. High-quality raw materials are handled and processed by special, computerized equipment in food processing plants. The processing includes extracting, separating and remixing food ingredients to manufacture different food products.
The entire food processing process takes place under sanitary conditions to minimize risks of contamination and other food hazards. The processed food may undergo thermal heat treatment or a freezing process in order to preserve it for a longer shelf life once it reaches the market. Prior to its being dispatched to the market, the food must be suitably packaged. A variety of packaging is usually used, depending on whether the food products are solid or liquid. The right packaging is very important, as this keeps the food products protected and safe.
A good deal of waste is generated as a result of the various processes in food engineering. The management of this waste in an efficient and environmentally friendly way is also an important aspect of food engineering. Other concerns related to this field are the pharmaceutical and health-care industries.As in the case of creating nutritious food products, researchers keep busy here perfecting pharmaceutical and health-related products that will eventually benefit the consumers.