The five fields of food science that should be understood as a food company are food microbiology, food engineering, 26% processing, food chemistry, nutrition and sensory analysis. Basically, the study of how microorganisms interact with food, food microbiology focuses on bacteria, molds, yeasts, and viruses. The areas of special importance for product development are food safety and quality. Food safety is concerned with preventing pathogens in food.
It's almost impossible to eliminate microorganisms from any food, but many steps can be taken to slow their growth or inactivate them. What food science is doing in the field of food safety is developing fast and highly sensitive techniques to identify the pathogenic microorganisms and the toxins they produce in food, and to develop packaging and processes that inhibit their growth and reduce their survival rate. Not all microorganisms are harmful, but some cause food spoilage. The key to controlling spoilage is to kill as many bacteria as we can without also harming the quality of the food in which they reside.
Food microbiology is one of the most important fields of food science when it comes to product development, especially in this era of litigation. When designing a development plan for a new product, it is essential to consider the microbial quality of each component and how that may affect the overall quality of the product, and to determine how to process the product so that it has a sufficient shelf life. As far as product developers are concerned, food engineers develop the concepts that processors use to convert raw materials into safe and durable food. In the development of menus, engineers may not play a direct role, but processors do.
The way an ingredient is processed can have a dramatic effect on the taste, color, safety and shelf life of foods. Consider high-pressure processing (HPP) and its effect on the fresh fruit and vegetable juice industry. HPP is a non-thermal pasteurization or “cold pasteurization” process developed to allow the production of fruit and vegetable juices without any of the harmful effects of heat treatments, such as changes in taste, texture or color. The nutritional profile of juices is not altered by the process, so there is no need to fortify them.
Nutritionists often associate thermal processing with harmful effects on the nutritional quality of food, but not always. Recent work at Cornell University showed that heating tomatoes increases the level of a cancer-fighting phytochemical called lycopene. Winsight is a leading B2B information services company focused on the food and beverage industry, providing information and market intelligence to business leaders on every channel that consumers purchase food and beverages (convenience stores, grocery retailers, restaurants and non-commercial food services) through media, events, data products, consulting services and trade shows. The physical chemistry of food is the study of physical and chemical interactions in foods in terms of physical and chemical principles applied to food systems, as well as the application of physicochemical techniques and instruments for the study and analysis of foods.
Food scientists and technologists are involved throughout the value chain, from farm to plate. The basis of the discipline lies in understanding the chemistry of the components of foods, such as proteins, carbohydrates, fats and water, and the reactions they undergo during processing and storage. To ensure competitive and high-quality products, scientific principles and new technologies are being applied to food manufacturing, and the necessary body of knowledge has become the discipline called Food Science. One of the main challenges for product and menu developers is to provide tasty foods that contain fewer calories, but that still satisfy the customer.
Food technologists also obtain the ingredients in the products, in addition to finding the best way to combine, process, store and preserve food in order to maintain flavor and nutritional value. Food chemistry is the study of the chemical processes and interactions of all the biological and non-biological components of food. The Korean Society for Food Science and Technology, or KOsFost, claims to be the first society in South Korea dedicated to food science. Major areas within the fields of food science and technology include food chemistry, food microbiology, sensory and consumer sciences, food engineering, quality assurance, innovation, nutrition and regulation.
The ability to perform analysis of food components is developed together with statistical methods of quality control. Food technologists can develop an HPP process that preserves the natural vitamin A content in, for example, an avocado puree. It is believed to be another step towards a better understanding of the development and application of technology and food. Product developers build on this research and are working to incorporate these foods or their specific bioactive compounds into new products.