What is Food Processing
In American culture today the term “food processing” can be easily confused with the often stigmatized concept of processed food. However, we understand that food processing can be something as simple as slicing, grating or blending a raw food product in a kitchen.
On a larger scale, of course, mechanical food processing equipment is used to reduce the physical form and size of solid or semi-solid food matter. The primary purpose of food size reduction equipment is to increase the yield of the material. And increased yield increases profitability.
In other words, being able to extract more juice from fewer apples improves a business’s bottom line.
High quality food processing equipment allows manufacturers to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their subsequent processes by altering the form and size of the primary food matter. Food processing equipment also helps improve the overall quality and edibility of the final food product, not to mention providing for a potentially broader range of food products.
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Overview of the Food Processing Industry
According to information from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA),
“Food and beverage manufacturing plants transform raw agricultural materials into products for intermediate or final consumption by applying labor, machinery, energy, and scientific knowledge. Some products may serve as inputs for further processing (such as syrup for manufacturing soda). In 2016, these plants accounted for 16 percent of the value of shipments from all U.S. manufacturing plants.”
A significantly large portion of food processing is comprised of size reduction.
Size reduction is a widespread, multipurpose operation in food processing. Size reduction of solids is achieved through milling, crushing, chopping, and cutting. Size reduction in liquids can include processes such as homogenization.
Size reduction of food solids involves creating smaller mass units from larger mass units of the same material. To make this happen, the larger mass units need to be subjected to stress by the application of force. The forces used for size reduction are pressure, shear, and impact.
In the food industry, screening or sieving is widely used to determine particle size distribution in granular materials and powders. In this case, the average diameter of the particles is related to the aperture sizes of the screens used. Size reduction ratios vary from below 8:1 in coarse crushing to more than 100:1 in fine grinding.
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A Brief History: Who Pioneered Processed Foods?
Humans have been “processing” food ever since people first learned how to cook. The more modern industry of food processing can ostensibly be said to begin with corn flakes.
Corn flakes came about accidentally when John Kellogg and his brother, William, left some cooked wheat to sit while they were busy with some pressing matters. They found that the wheat had gone stale in the meantime, but they decided to continue to process it by forcing it through rollers in order to create sheets of dough.
What they produced instead were flakes, which they then toasted. This happened in August 1894, and a patent for “Flaked Cereals and Process of Preparing Same” was filed on May 31, 1895, and issued on April 14, 1896.
Another well-known “processed food” product is Spam. An article at Scientific American notes,
“The first iteration of what became Spam was called “Hormel spiced ham,” and it was just cured pork shoulder in a can. Competitors quickly launched their own versions. To differentiate his product, Jay Hormel changed the recipe in 1937, grinding up the pork, adding salt and spices, and encasing the meat in an aspic gelatin. Most important, Hormel rebranded the product with the catchy name “Spam”—short for “shoulder of pork and ham”—before World War II broke out.”
What is Food Process Engineering?
Food process engineering is a broad and multidisciplinary field comprised of microbiology, applied physical sciences, chemistry and engineering for food and related industries. Food engineering relies on the application of mechanical engineering, chemical engineering and agricultural engineering principles to food materials.
Consequently, food process engineers are generally responsible for ensuring the safe and efficient processing of food, as well as the packaging and delivery of food to distribution points.
Can Food Processing be Dangerous?
According to statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and Cal/OSHA, the food processing industry has a higher rate of injury than most others and the worker injury rate is almost twice as high as for other industries.
Unfortunately, food processing employees suffer more fatal injuries than any other manufacturing sector.
Keep in mind, however, that the leading driver for these statistics is the rate of injuries and fatalities among workers in the animal slaughtering and processing industry. In other words, milling fruits and nuts or crushing melons is not nearly as hazardous!
Food Processing Technology
Modern food processing technology allows consumers access to a vast array of food products that were unimaginable even 50 years ago. Throughout the 20th century, much of the innovations and advances in food processing technology was spurred by the needs of military organizations.
Today, innovations such as microwave ovens have led the way to an entire market for “convenience foods” that drive food processing technology. Yet, the bulk of current food processing technology is largely made up of improved versions of “old tech” such as mills, grinders, shredders and crushers.
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Food Processing Applications
Food processing is part of a larger industry that includes food preservation, food production and food manufacturing. All of these terms are interrelated and refer to the various processes applied to raw agricultural products to produce safe and palatable food products.
There are a variety of food processing methods employed in the food industry, with many products requiring several processes before being packaged.
How Food is Processed
National food brands such as Amy’s and Frito Lay use their size reduction equipment to process raw goods and create their finished products. But their customers represent a wide range of food product manufacturers.
And how is their equipment used?
Processors use Corenco equipment in a multitude of ways to achieve their final product. Examples include processing cooked chickpeas/garbanzo beans for hummus production, various nuts for nut butters and milks, and processing fruits and vegetables for extracting juice or making purees and sauces. Our mills can work with both dry and wet material.
Corenco is your choice for premier food size reduction equipment.
Reduction of fibrous roots, soft vegetables, fruits, cooked meats, dry cheeses, nuts and legumes
- Grinding whole melons and frozen blocks and frozen drums of material
- Finishing liquids such as soup bases and baby food into a uniform puree
- Shredding soft and hard cheeses, as well as frozen blocks of material
Milling, crushing and grinding processes are used in many fields, including the chemical, pharmaceutical, and cannabis/hemp industries. However, food materials often pose particular challenges when it comes to size reduction.
Corenco specializes in size reduction equipment custom engineered to optimize their customers’ processes. While the equipment comes standard with many interchangeable parts that can radically change the output material, we also regularly design and fabricate custom systems for specific processing challenges.
Types of Food Processing
Broadly speaking, food processing is essentially converting raw food items into cooked and preserved edible food products; and there are many types of processes used to accomplish this.
- Drying processes, especially for cereal grains
- Preservation through heating or freezing processes
- Salting processes for meats and various nut products
- Vacuum packing and bottling
Stages of Food Processing
Most industrial food processing methods fall into three sequential categories:
Primary food processing
This involves turning raw agricultural products into foods that can be consumed, often beginning with size reduction methods.
Secondary Food Processing
At this stage, the various ingredients produced through primary food processing are then used to create ready-to-eat foods, such as juice from fruit products.
Tertiary Food Processing
Tertiary processing of food products involves industrial-scale production of ready-to-eat foods. This is the stage where many food products commonly referred to as “processed food” are manufactured.
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The Future of Food Processing
A recent report from McKinsey & Company revealed several market-driven trends for the food processing industry:
“Steady growth in emerging markets, urbanization, and rising living standards are causing a dietary shift to higher-value-added product, fueling demand for processed and packaged foods and leading to higher equipment sales.
An increasing focus on health (organic and healthier food) is driving product and menu expansion and the need for higher standards and traceability. There will likely be a new range of equipment for food production, requirements for higher machine standards,
Customers are demanding machines that improve operational efficiency, reduce costs, and increase uptimes, leading to new requirements for automation, energy efficiency, and integrated solutions.”
In addition, artificial intelligence (AI) automation is increasingly being employed for tasks like sorting of raw products such as fruits and vegetables. This is currently accomplished primarily by human labor.
AI-based sensor technology is also being applied to equipment cleanliness functions.
Another trend is that consumers are increasingly opting for fresher and minimally processed food products. New food processing technologies are being developed that extend the shelf-life of fresh foods and guarantee their safety without affecting taste and appearance.
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Processed Food and the American Diet
According to various studies, it’s estimated that about 60 to 80 percent of Americans’ total calorie, consumption comes from “processed” store-bought foods and beverages. This is a concern for many people, largely because of the high levels of sodium and sugar that are often found in highly processed food products.
However, even the American Heart Association stresses that processed foods are not inherently unhealthy.
Benefits of Food Processing
When food is processed, it makes them far easier to store and preserve. Some food processing techniques, such as freezing, preserve the nutritional content of the food.
Another key benefit of food processing is the ability to ensure food safety and remove or prevent dangerous toxins. A common example is milk pasteurization; a process that removes harmful bacteria from raw milk, making it safer for human consumption.
The European Food Information Council notes,
“Food processing can lead to improvements in, or damage to, the nutritional value of foods, sometimes both at the same time, and it can help to preserve nutrients that would otherwise be lost during storage. For instance, shock-freezing of vegetables shortly after harvesting slows the loss of sensitive nutrients. Raw beans are inedible and the simple process of heating (e.g. boiling) renders them edible by destroying or inactivating specific anti-nutritional factors they contain. The process of boiling vegetables does lead to losses of vitamin C but it can also release certain beneficial bioactive compounds such as beta-carotene in carrots, which would otherwise be less available during digestion because the heating breaks down the plant cell walls.”
Why Processed Food is Popular
Food processing enables food manufacturers to provide almost completely uniform products. Consumers want consistency. If a customer buys a bottle of fruit juice today, the contents of the same brand of fruit juice they buy next week should be the same product.
Food Processing Equipment
Food processing equipment includes all the processing machines and systems used to sort, handle, prepare, cook, preserve, store, and package consumer food products.
The bulk of food processing equipment is primarily used to “process” raw food materials. This results in increased palatability, consumability, and digestibility of these materials. In addition, processing equipment is used for extending the shelf life of food products through preservation.
Along with the processing of the food products, some pieces of equipment are used for preliminary or ancillary functions, such as sorting, size reduction and eventually packaging.
Why Food Processing is Important
The main objective of food processing is to provide safe, nutritious food products in order to maintain nutritional health for the greatest number of consumers. Primary food processing is necessary to make most foods edible, while secondary food processing is often used to transform these ingredients into packaged foods, such as bread, potato chips, and juices.
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Corenco Food Processing Equipment
Since 1980, Corenco has been manufacturing high-quality food processing equipment. With four decades of food processing equipment experience, they’ve grown from just two sizes of disintegrators to five different lines of equipment.
Their first two mills were used for apple juice and processing soybeans for tofu and soy milk production. Those two applications represented half of their customers during their first decade of business.
And both of these machines are still in use today!
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Choosing Your Size Reduction Equipment
Corenco has decades of experience addressing and overcoming these engineering challenges and we continue to test new products. Our line of size reduction machines include gravity-fed angle disintegrators, screw-fed disintegrators, pump-fed disintegrators, crushers and shredders.
If you are looking for a new piece of equipment or need to upgrade to something larger, we will work with you to determine which machine is best for your specific application. We do this by also considering your volume requirements, space restrictions and budget. No one machine can do everything you may need and It can be a complicated process to select the right equipment by yourself.e will work with you to help you find your ideal match.
Industrial food size reduction machines are essential for processing your raw materials so your business can create quality products. They often represent some of the most valuable pieces of equipment you own.
Corenco specializes in high-quality, durable, size reduction machines that will increase your output so your business can grow. If you’re in the market for a new Corenco mill, crusher, or shredder, we will work with you to help you find the perfect solution.
At Corenco, we continue to grow and thrive by testing new materials. If you have food material or process requirements that we have no data on, please send it to us, along with a target sample, and we will see what we can do for you!
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