Food science: Why is it Important?

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How has food science become so important in our lives? Not only does it impact our health, but also the economy and the environment.

In this article, we will explore the early days of this discipline in the United States and Canada. We will also show how it has evolved into a crucial tool for improving the production, processing and safe consumption of food.

Food science: First Steps

In the United States and Canada has played a pivotal role in modern society. It originated due to the need to generate more efficient and safer methods for the food system, such as:

  • Produce.
  • Preserving.
  • Distributing food due to industrialization and urban growth.

This science is essential to ensure the safety and quality of what we eat. It also prevents food-borne diseases and ensures safe consumption.

Developments in the United States

In this country, an important milestone was the enactment of the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906. This law was intended to regulate the quality and safety of food and drugs (FDA, 2019).

This was a response to public concerns about food safety, exacerbated by publications such as Upton Sinclair's “The Jungle”, which revealed poor practices in the meat industry.

Thus, in the United States, food science has gone through several transitions. These reveal a continuous evolution and improvement in policies to strengthen food safety. Some of them are (Palma, 2017):

  • The establishment of the Act in 1906.
  • Implementation of the regulatory functions of the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in 1930.
  • Regulation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act in 1938 (FFDCA).
  • The progression reached a climax in January 2011 with the enactment of the Food Safety Modernization Act.

The latter law provided the FDA with extensive authority over both domestic and international food producers. It thus encompasses both the management of adverse incidents and the implementation of preventive measures (Palma, 2017).

Canada and its first steps

During the 1930s, Canada saw the birth of food science as a formal academic discipline. The University of Toronto played a pioneering role by establishing, in 1931, the first department dedicated to this in the country. Subsequently, in the 1940s, the focus broadened to include research in nutrition and human health (Health Canada, 2019).

The country's food science experts work closely with the food industry to innovate. They also work to improve food production processes and develop new products.

Bromatology: Principles of Food Science

Bromatology, also called food science, is a scientific branch dedicated to the analysis and study of all aspects related to food (Arun, 2019).

Its main principles include:

  • Food safety. It focuses on ensuring that food is safe and does not represent a health hazard.
  • Nutritional quality: guarantees that they meet the dietary requirements of populations.
  • Sustainability and effectiveness: prioritizes the use of sustainable and efficient production and processing practices.
  • Innovation and technological development: encourages research and the advancement of new food technologies and products.

On the other hand, research in bromatology can be summarized in three main types:

  • Conservation and shelf-life studies.
  • Nutritional analysis.
  • Food toxicology studies.

The fascinating disciplines of bromatology

As for their specific disciplines, each one focuses on a particular element of the study of food (Bello, 2000). Some of them are:

  • Food chemistry or analysis of the chemical composition of each food: which encompasses the analysis of food.
  • Nutrition and dietetics: it analyses how food impacts on people's health, as well as its contribution to a balanced diet.
  • Food microbiology: it is in charge of studying the microorganisms present in food, both beneficial and harmful.
  • Technology: focuses on methods and techniques of food processing, preservation and packaging.

Specific techniques in food science

Among the techniques most frequently used in bromatology, the following are highlighted:

  1. Chromatography: used to separate and examine the different components present in a food sample.
  2. Spectroscopy: used for the identification and quantification of food components.
  3. Microscopy: used for the detailed observation of micro-organisms that may be found in foodstuffs.
  4. Sensory analysis: assesses the organoleptic properties of food by including taste, odor, texture and also, visual appearance.

Explores current developments in the world of bromatology

According to The Food Tech (2023), food science has been significantly advanced by technology. It has transformed food production, processing and distribution in the food industry. Recent advances include:

  • Precision agriculture: using advanced technologies such as sensors, drones and geographic information systems to obtain detailed crop data.
  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning: facilitating the processing and analysis of large volumes of data. This comes together with valuable information for decision-making and process improvement in the food industry.
  • 3D food printing: enables the creation of personalized food with unique textures.
  • Nanotechnology: used to improve food quality and safety. It also uses nanomaterials to create stronger packaging and improve nutrient absorption.

These technological advances have been instrumental in improving efficiency, quality and sustainability in the food industry.

In short, bromatology is at the forefront of food innovation. It uses advanced technologies to improve production and quality. Its research also seeks to transform the industry and address global challenges. Therefore, we encourage you to always select products that meet quality, safety and science specifications.

 

Bibliographic references:

Arun, S. (2019). Food science and technology. Maharashtra State Bureau of Textbook Production and Curriculum Research. https://static.collegedekho.com/media/uploads/2022/03/02/food-science-and-technology.pdf

Bello, J. (2000). Ciencia bromatológica. Principios generales de la ciencia de los alimentos. Ediciones DÌaz de Santos, S. A. https://fcen.uncuyo.edu.ar/upload/ciencia-bromatologica.pdf

FDA. (2019). Part I: The 1906 food and drugs act and its enforcement. FDA: https://www.fda.gov/about-fda/changes-science-law-and-regulatory-authorities/part-i-1906-food-and-drugs-act-and-its-enforcement

Health Canada. (2019). Historia de las guías alimentarias de Canadá desde 1942 hasta 2007. Health Canada: https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/hc-sc/documents/services/food-nutrition/canada-food-guide/resources/evidence/food-nutrients-health-interim-evidence-update-2018/26-18-2165-History%20of%20CFG-EN-06.pdf

Palma, A. (2017). Food safety: marketing trends intended for consumer awareness and partnership. En: B. Debasis y N. Sreejayan. Developing new functional food and nutraceutical products, 85-108. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780128027806000055.

The Food Tech. (2023). El futuro de la alimentación: avances tecnológicos en la industria alimentaria. The Food Tech. https://thefoodtech.com/tecnologia-de-los-alimentos/el-futuro-de-la-alimentacion-avances-tecnologicos-en-la-industria-alimentaria/

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