Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Processing/manufacturing

The transformation of raw ingredients by physical or chemical means into food is a process that adds economic value to agricultural products and can potentially deliver other benefits by making products that are, for example, safer, easier to prepare, able to be stored throughout the seasons and transported across long distances. However, processing and manufacturing also uses significant amounts of energy and nonrenewable resources and is thus a source of GHG emissions and resource depletion. It is also a focal point of food waste issues: while processing can reduce perishability, nearly as much food is wasted during the processing stage as in the postharvest stage. Furthermore much of the sugar, salt and fats in food products is added and important nutrients and fibre removed, during the processing stage, meaning that processed food consumption is now a major contributor to obesity and associated non communicable diseases.

17 June 2019

This book by Ruth Kassinger uses case studies to explore how algae could be used to produce food, fuel and packaging materials.

Image: Max Pixel, Pressure Industrial Pipe, Creative Commons CC0
17 June 2019

Methane emissions from ammonia fertiliser manufacturing plants (which use natural gas as a feedstock and energy source) in the United States are around one hundred times higher than currently reported levels, according to this study. Researchers used a Google Street View car equipped with methane analysers to take measurements downwind of six ammonia fertiliser plants (there are only 23 such plants in the US).

24 April 2019

This book by David McClements discusses scientific and technological advances (such as gene editing, nanotechnology, and artificial intelligence) in the food system, and outlines both potential benefits to people and the environment and concerns over how the technologies might be used.

1 April 2019

This book by Robyn Metcalfe examines processes and technologies in the supply chains that bring food from farms to consumers.

26 March 2019

This book identifies common causes of food waste in developing countries and presents examples of successful food preservation methods for different food types in developing countries.

Image: Shpernik088, The chicken meat industry 14, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International
19 November 2018

Chicken processing plants in the United States will be allowed to apply for a waiver to increase their processing speed from 140 to 175 birds per minute, in response to a petition from the National Chicken Council. Civil Eats reports that workers in meat processing plants are already injured five times more frequently than all other private workers, and that both animal welfare and labour welfare advocates have previously sought to block increases in processing speed.

Image: Beetle, Candies, Pixabay, CC0 Creative Commons
16 October 2018

A paper argues that current definitions of ultra-processed foods are inconsistently applied. Furthermore, while higher consumption of ultra-processed foods is associated with higher sugar intake and lower fibre intake, the paper claims that intakes of fat, saturated fat and salt are not associated with ultra-processed food consumption. The paper questions the policy recommendation that ultra-processed foods should be avoided.

2 October 2018

In a technical report, the American Academy of Pediatrics outlines the health concerns associated with several classes of food additives (including those unintentionally added to food, e.g. from packaging), including bisphenols, phthalates, perfluorinated compounds, artificial food colours, and nitrates and nitrites. The report notes that children may be particularly susceptible to the effects of these additives because of their lower body weight and because their metabolic systems are still developing.

Image: Michal Maňas, Bales of crushed blue PET bottles. In Olomouc, the Czech Republic, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported
20 August 2018

The UK’s Local Government Association (LGA) has called for industry to stop creating non-recyclable food packaging, saying that “Councils have done all they can,” to tackle the issue of plastic recycling. The LGA has found that only one-third of plastic packaging used by households can be recycled.

Image: rawpixel.com, Beverage bottle bubble, Pxhere, CC0 Public Domain
10 July 2018

Disruptions to supplies of food-grade CO2 in Europe are causing shortages of carbonated drinks, meat and crumpets, and could threaten animal welfare. Gasworld explains that several European CO2 plants have prolonged their periods of maintenance downtime due to low CO2 prices (read more here).

Image: Bangdoll, Mango with section on a white background, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic
4 June 2018

A new edible and almost invisible coating could extend the shelf life of fruit and vegetables and help farmers sell more of their crops, reports Civil Eats. The maker of the coating, Apeel Sciences, says that the coating is made from fats that can be derived from the peel, seeds and pulp of “any kind of fruit or vegetable”. Apeel Sciences claims that the coating can double the lifespan of produce, even without refrigeration.

4 June 2018

The book “A handbook of food crime: Immoral and illegal practices in the food industry and what to do about them”, edited by Allison Gray and Ronald Hinch, discusses some of the problems in current food systems that lead to food crime. Topics discussed include food adulteration, forced labour in the chocolate industry, animal transportation and regulation of food waste.

26 March 2018

This report from the UK NGO Sustainable Food Trust shows that one in three small abattoirs in the UK have closed in the last decade, which could mean that marketing locally-produced, traceable meat will not be possible in some areas.

Image: Sam LaRussa, Yeast Cells Under the Microscope, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
12 March 2018

Startup Perfect Day, which grows milk proteins in yeast cells instead of cows, has raised $24.7 million dollars in funding and is now talking to major food brands.

6 March 2018

The UK’s Food and Drink Federation has released its 2017 progress report, which tracks the progress of its members in the food and drink industry towards meeting its Ambition 2025 environmental goals.

6 March 2018

This report by the Meridian Institute brings together existing information about climate change impacts and opportunities for climate adaptation and mitigation into a food systems framework.

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