Technology in the Food Industry
What is food technology?
The process of food manufacturing and processing requires a lot of careful and calculated steps to make the food safe for consumption. These numerous and complicated steps in food processing is made simpler using the latest technology available to us. Therefore, the application of technology to food processing is known as food technology.
One of the first technologies applied to food processing was pasteurization of milk, invented by Louis Pasteur. Since then, the food processing industry has seen a variety of new technologies eg. Freeze-drying, decaffeination, etc.
Technology is being used to reduce waste generated from food processing and also to improve the efficiency of the food packaging industry so as to reduce it’s impact on the environment. An app called Zero helps restaurants and caterers with excess food connect to the NGOs in need of the same.
How does Food Technology impact the environment?
We are all aware of the alarming decline in the population of bees caused mainly by climate change and industrial food manufacturing, while on the other hand, the demand for natural honey keeps rising. Keeping this in mind, the gold medal at the International Genetically Engineered Machine competition at Boston was awarded to a team of twelve students from Israel Institute of Technology for inventing “BeeFree” honey. The students replicated the bees’ metabolic pathway in the lab and introduced a bacteria model to produce artificial honey which can be tweaked to desired specifications like consistency as well as taste.
However, this is not the first unconventional use of technology in food processing. One of the biggest leap in food technology was in 2015, when the Ethan Brown founded Beyond Meat released it’s first plant-based burger patty. This patty tastes just like meat, and this means not just good news for vegetarians but also vegans!
Robots in the Food Industry is the future.
At the farms: Agriculture technology these days are so advanced that robots are used on farms for identifying, sorting and even planting seedlings and saplings. Autonomous tractors are used for ploughing fields, drones and autonomous ground vehicles monitor and analyze crop health. Some other technologies include weeding and harvesting robots.
For food processing: With the rise in population, the demand for food has sky-rocketed. Autonomous food processing may be the key to satisfying this rise in demand. The value of the global food automation industry is expected to double in the next 3 years. Robotic technology is applied to raw food processing steps like cleaning, sorting and transportation. Some more advanced technology is applied for sorting, defect removal and mixing in the secondary food processing step.
Packaging: It has been quite some time that robots have been used for food packaging in the supply chain. Innovators are now proposing to incorporate robots to entirely take over the packaging industry.
Food delivery: You must have heard the recent buzz created by Dominos Pizza for the very first delivery carried out by a drone. This is just the beginning of a trend that is catching up pretty fast with restaurants and food delivery services.
What is a robochef?
As the name says, robochef is a robotic chef which only has a pair of articulate and automated arms. Moley, the company designing the robot, claims that the robochef has the same level of dexterity as the average human. The robochef operates by recording the recipe of famous chefs, which not only includes ingredients and instructions, but also the complete and accurate replay of their motions and movements.
While all these innovations in technology is proving to be of great advantage in the food industry, there are a few drawbacks which cannot be overlooked..
- Machines are replacing human labour, therefore leading to unemployment
- Latest technology is expensive and most small and middle level business cannot afford them
- With such efficient technology, man becomes absolutely dependent on it for day-to-day functions
- Advancement in technology has drastic irreversible impact on the environment
- Technological malfunctions are unavoidable and often lead to great loss of resource and time
Keeping everything in mind, it is safe to say that the food industry can boom enormously with the help of new inventions. However, there are areas where the same inventions can be made considering factors like employment, affordability and the toll on the environment. If we move cautiously towards the better utilization of technology, unimaginable milestones can be achieved in the food production and processing sector.