New processing technologies could improve nutrition security, Institute of Food Technologists states in new white paper

January 5, 2024

Making better use of emerging food processing technologies could improve food and nutrition security as the world faces challenges like climate change, the Institute of Food Technologists has said.

In a new white paper, the US-headquartered organisation called for greater efforts to speed the development of new food technology, such as through public-private partnerships.

The adoption of “Good Processing Practices” should be formalised, according to the institute, offering a parallel to the universal standards seen in manufacturing.

The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) made its recommendations in, “Food Science and Technology Solutions to Improve Food and Nutrition Security: Sustainable Production of Nutritious Foods Through Processing Technology.”

In the document, the institute said that it was necessary to “future-proof” the food system amid challenges such as population growth, climate change, pandemics, wars, droughts, floods “and other natural disasters”.

“Food processing is an essential bridge in the food system connecting farm to fork and beyond and ensuring food and nutrition security,” the white paper says.

“Processing technologies offer a sustainable, scalable, and affordable way to simultaneously improve the availability and nutritional quality of foods to help ensure food and nutrition security for all.

“Numerous emerging technologies are focused on preserving food safety and quality while improving nutritional value and minimising the impact to the environment.”

New processing technologies could improve nutrition security, Institute of Food Technologists states in new white paper

Image credit: Sigmund / Unsplash

These emerging technologies need to be further developed and scaled to create what the institute said would be “a more nutritious, sustainable and safe food supply”, with improved food and nutrition security.

To overcome the long development time – often several years – for new technologies and to secure the necessary “significant investment”, public-private partnerships and multi-stakeholder investments should be promoted, according to the institute.

“Cost and system optimisation is also needed to ensure affordability,” the institute states. “Acceleration of regulatory approvals as well as adequate training and support of the workforce in the implementation of these new technologies is also essential.”

There are particular challenges in developing nations, where there may be unreliable power sources, a lack of trained personnel, limited distribution infrastructure and poor food safety oversight. These can all pose difficulties even for traditional technologies, according to the IFT.

As a result, in these regions of the world there should be a focus on introducing simple and cost-efficient processing to ensure that it is affordable and that the right support and training is available.

There should also be efforts through multiple stakeholders to improve communication to consumers, to ensure that they understand and accept food processing technology.

“The conflation of processing and food formulation in the development of food classification systems that classify ‘processed’ foods as less healthy is an example of the consequences of a lack of multidisciplinary collaboration,” the white paper states.

“Creating a perception of processed foods as bad for health hinders current innovations that are finding more sustainable ways to create more nutritious foods to ensure food and nutrition security for the growing global population.”

New processing technologies could improve nutrition security, Institute of Food Technologists states in new white paper

Image credit: Arno Senoner / Unsplash

Another key recommendation of the white paper is that the food processing sector looks to develop a parallel system to the “Good Manufacturing Practices” or GMP that ensure food safety.

The IFT recommends the development and implementation of “Good Processing Practices” to optimise nutritional quality and to ensure that consumers accept food. Key to this is a focus on processes that are environmentally sustainable.

“In addition to the embedding of sustainability and nutrition principles, these practices could involve a coordinated approach across the food value chain to achieve a future with greater food and nutrition security,” the white paper states.

The white paper follows a virtual roundtable discussion called, “Enabling Food & Nutrition Security through Processing Technologies to Sustainably Preserve Nutrient Availability,” held earlier in 2023.

Main image credit: No Revisions / Unsplash

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