Food Processing, Preservation and Consumption – Coursework Example

Food Processing, Preservation and Consumption Fruits and vegetables are food groups that provide the body with the majority of nutrients required. However, the two are highly perishable and cannot naturally last for long without losing their nutritional value. Fruits and vegetables, in the current century, are processed and stored in units that allows for prolonged shelf life while maintaining their nutrition value. However, the processes involved are debatable on the concept of effectiveness in maintaining the nutritional value (Hitti, 2012). An example of such is orange juice, a product of juice fruit and canned carrots obtained from fresh carrots. The process exploited in processing juice has been in use for a longer period in comparison with that of canning carrots.
For carrots and other vegetables, the process of canning involves peaking at optimum maturity of the vegetable, blanching and canned. As they are blanched, the possibility of loosing nutrients is high as the duration is more prolonged (Hitti, 2012). The heat associated with the process also contributes to the nutrients loss. Salt is added in the process with the purpose of preserving the flavor and reducing chances of spoilage. The addictive, in this case being salt, affects the nutritional value to decline. Therefore, where the canning does not involve additives and quickened, preservation of nutrients is facilitated. Canned carrots, through the report released by the American Dietetic Association, has higher amounts of antioxidants as compared to the fresh carrots (Hitti, 2012). The increased value is as a result of the canning process.
On the other hand, orange juice, which has remained in the market for a significant period takes a more detailed process (Chet, 2013). The process begins by selection of the orange fruits from various types in order to provide a specific flavor. Selection is also based on the maturity level of orange. During the process, several additives are added. Preservatives, example sodium benzoate, are used. The preservatives are used with caution at strict amounts. Antioxidants such as ascorbic acid, BHA and alpha-tocopherol are also utilized. Sweeteners are used to enhance the taste of the juice. The sweetener can be artificial sweeteners or from other sources such as honey.
After the fruits are selected, extraction of the juice takes place. Concentration then follows. The major importance of concentration is to extend the shelf life of the juice while economizing shipping and storage. Thermally accelerated short time evaporator is the commonly used equipment used for concentration (Chet, 2013). From concentration, packaging for commercial purpose is initiated via juice processor. The concentrate is blended with water aiming at gaining the required acid to sugar ratio, flavor and color. Pasteurization follows as the next step. Pasteurization is carried out with the aim of prolonging the shelf life of the juice. Pasteurization also helps in inactivating the enzymes present that are associated with causing separation of pulp. Packaging is the last step and is done while the juice is hot.
Packaging of the processed products follows the market criterion. Packaging materials and labels are utilized with the aim of attracting the potential consumers. The colors and images of the product enhance attraction of the customers. However, the packaging may mislead the consumers as the natural status of the product as compared to the processed status varies (Chet, 2013). As evidenced by the process, the processed products go through several stages, and additives are added and, therefore, effect on the natural contents is affected. The packaging choice in most cases exaggerates the true nature of the product making it look superior while compared to the freshly obtained product, it may not be superior.
Consumer awareness is an aspect that is changing the food industry (Chris, 2009). Fast food restaurants, as such, have to maintain their competitive edge and market share through producing what the consumers want. In a move to impress the consumers, the restaurants use the marketing ploy of promotion of healthier meals (Chris, 2009). However, though the healthier meals are used as a marketing ploy, they have improved dietary concerns. Panera bread is one of the highly ranked fast food providers. In an effort to attract consumers, they have moved to announcing the removal of artificial ingredients in their productions. The competitors, such as MacDonalds have followed the same route
However, the time frame indicated clearly shows that they are more committed to marketing their products rather than observing the health condition of the consumers. For instance, Panera Bread forecasts on removal of all artificial ingredients by 2016 (Laudan, 2010). An example of such items is the Fuji apple salad. The marketing strategy employed is the convincing nature of the healthy impact of the salad. The salad looks attractive and natural. However, in the real aspect, the salad is highly processed (Laudan, 2010). As such, the fast food restaurants are not significantly good for people’s health. An individual should consider the impacts of consuming from the fast food before spending dollars while ingesting unhealthy-healthy looking foodstuff.
In the current time, consumption of genetically modified food is not a pressing issue as was in the previous time as it is a common routine for many people (Chris, 2009). However, GMOs should be labeled. Some individuals are not yet comfortable with the idea of consuming GMOs. As such, they should be availed with the chance of choosing whether to consume or not (Chris, 2009). The GMOs, however, should not be banned. Apart from the shortened process of maturing the GMOs, they are resistant to many conditions. Therefore, the products save on cost. Healthy nutrition is not significantly affected by consumption of GMOs.
Works cited
Hitti M.(2012) Canned fruits, veggies healthy, too: some processed produce more nutritious than fresh.  Available at: http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/news/20070316/canned-fruits-veggies-healthy-too. Accessed April 11, 2012.
Laudan, Rache (2010). "In Praise of Fast Food". "Where modern food became available, people grew taller and stronger and lived longer." UTNE Reader. Retrieved 2010-09-24.
Chris Knipp (2009). Big guys and little guys and what we have to eat. Berkeley, California20 June 2009
Chet Townsend (2013). From the Grove to Your Glass. The Story of Florida Orange Juice.