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Nutrition & Dietetics

The Roles Of Food Packaging And Labelling In Food Processing

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ABSTRACT

Packaging is an essential component of the food system, assuring the safe handling and delivery of fresh and processed food products from the point of production to the end user. Technological developments in packaging offer new prospects to reduce losses, maintain quality, add value and extend shelf-life of agricultural produce and consequently secure the food system. The objective of this review is to highlight the contributions of packaging and labeling in food processing systems by maintain quality and reducing food losses and waste. The review also discusses some of the novel and emerging packaging technologies that have revolutionized the way we handle and package food to meet the increasing consumer demand for consistent supply of high quality, safe and nutritious products.

 INTRODUCTION

Packaging maintains the benefits of food processing after the process is complete, enabling foods to travel safely for long distances from their point of origin and still be wholesome at the time of consumption. However, packaging technology must balance food protection with other issues, including energy and material costs, heightened social and environmental consciousness, and strict regulations on pollutants and disposal of municipal solid waste.

Inappropriate processing and packaging (or lack of these) can contribute to 25 to 50% food loss, especially in developing countries. About 10% of fruit and vegetables shipped to European Union are discarded due to unacceptable quality and spoilage (World Packaging Organization, 2008). These high levels of postharvest loss and waste suggest that food production is only half the battle to feed the world (Opara, 2011). Examining the role of packaging and labeling in reducing postharvest food losses and waste is particularly important given that packaging also contributes to municipal waste after completing its function of protecting the contents. The need to handling and dispose large quantities of packaging after utilising the food contents, therefore, constantly puts packaging waste in bad light in public discussion about waste, often ignoring the critical role that packaging plays in securing the food system.

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The objective of this study, therefore, is to highlight the role of packaging and labeling in the food processing industries with particular attention to the impacts of packaging in maintaining product quality and safety and reducing the incidence of postharvest food losses and waste.

The History of Food Processing

Food processing has occurred since pre-historic times. Humans have been using fire for at least 250,000 years(Carmodi et al, 20009). Cooking, a form of food processing which improves palatability, digestibility, and safety, followed thereafter. More complex forms of food processing emerged in ancient and medieval times: baking bread, producing cheese, wine, sun-dried or vinegar-pickled vegetables, and salted or smoked meat. Processed foods made up a significant part of the human diet whenever it was not possible to eat fresh or to be sustained by agriculture and farming due to seasonal changes, crop failures or wars. Marching armies and sailors on long sea voyages relied heavily on processed foods as well. Mass scale food processing (producing foods in large amounts) was introduced during the industrial revolution in the 18th and 19th century, starting with the advent of canned and pasteurized foods. In the first half of the 20th century, Europe was ravaged by malnutrition (under-nutrition), caused by poverty, an economic depression and two catastrophic world wars (Welch & Mitchell, 2000). As a result, mass food production focused on sustaining the European population; reducing food-borne diseases, malnutrition and nutrient deficiencies by providing protein-rich, energy-dense and fortified foods (with vitamins) that were accessible to all.

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Modern times

Mass food production and processing still serves an important role. Without it, consumers would be restricted to what is produced locally, limiting food availability and accessibility for the great majority that live in urban environments (EEA, 2006). An increased food offer allows people to choose a more varied diet, which is more likely to provide all the nutrients required for good health.

Our eating habits have shifted, driven by convenience and time pressures, with more food eaten out-of-home (10-30% of total daily energy intake). In addition, food choices can be driven by emerging trends, such as perceived environmental sustainability, organic or fair-trade foods. In the last decades, consumers have become more health conscious and interested in maintaining or improving their health through their diets.

Obesity is considered by the World Health Organization as one of the greatest public health challenges for the 21st century. Recent figures show that, globally, 36.9% of men and 38.0% of women are overweight or obese. For the European continent, adult overweight and obesity prevalence has reached an average of 59.5% for men and 51.9% for women (Ng. et al., 2014). The EU population is also ageing, and the older population is expected to become an even more important consumer group in the future.

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Pages:  30

Category: Seminar

Format:  Word & PDF                                                  

Source: Imsuinfo                                     

Material contains Table of Content, Abstract and References.

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