Infographic of an industrial food processing plant consisting of a vat containing tomatoes, connected via a pip to a spout delivering tomato juice to cans on a conveyor belt which enter a canning machine and emerge sealed and labelled.

Welcome to the course

Welcome to ‘How is food made?’, a European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT) Food online course produced by the German Institute of Food Technologies (DIL), the University of Reading, and the European Food Information Council (EUFIC).

In the previous Step, you were asked to rank four different food items in order of which you trust the most. All of these foods are processed, but aspects of their processing emphasise the different factors that we place trust in. You might trust foods that look traditional, which have been produced the same way for centuries. Or foods that look ‘natural’ which are perceived to be more nutritious. Or perhaps safer foods are more trustworthy and you would chose well preserved or hygienically packaged products. All these foods have been processed in a way that makes them trustworthy products. Your responses demonstrate that different people place value on different factors. For the food system to work for all consumers, all these factors need to be taken into account.

The course

The biggest challenge facing the global food sector is providing enough food for the rapidly growing population, which is expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050 (World Population Prospects 2019, United Nations). On top of this, the impact of food production on our environment needs to change in order to mitigate the effects of climate change. Across the globe, rapid urbanisation and changing lifestyles and consumer habits require corresponding changes in the food production system. And there’s no point in producing any of it unless the food is safe and nutritious when it is consumed.

This course covers the reasons why we need to process our food both for consumers individually and for society at large.

Over the next four weeks you’ll explore the principles of food processing and gain an understanding of both traditional and modern industrial techniques. You’ll discuss the importance of food processing in terms of health, safety, quality and sustainability. You’ll have the opportunity to engage with the debate on how beneficial certain processing techniques are to human health and evaluate EU law and regulations. Throughout, you’ll reflect on the challenges of feeding growing populations safely and sustainably.

Week 1: Why do we process food? We’ll define what processing means before going on to consider why it’s needed.

Week 2: How do we process food? We’ll cover homogenisation, ultra-high temperature processing (UHT) and freezing, pasteurisation, canning, drying and smoking.

Week 3: How is the food industry innovating? For example, you’ll find out about Pulsed Electric Field and High Pressure Processing, active and intelligent packaging and irradiation techniques.

Week 4: How does the EU ensure the food we eat is safe, good for us, and sustainably produced? You’ll also gain an insight into consumer attitudes to food processing.

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This article is from the free online course:

How is Food Made? Understanding Processed Food

EIT Food