The benefits of food processing for preservation, bioavailability and food security: IFT

Processed food, especially ultra-processed foods (UPF) is, for many people, one of the current demons of the food industry. However, according to a new white paper by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), there are significant upsides to food processing, especially when it comes to bolstering food security.

Stemming from the results of a roundtable conducted by the IFT, the white paper aimed to address some of the benefits of food processing. For example, how food processing is vital for the preservation of food, and has the ability to enhance certain nutritional aspects of food, such as nutrient bioavailability. The paper aimed to assuage what it saw has misconceptions about processed food being linked to poor health.

“Food processing is under intense scrutiny in the public health arena and due to confusion with formulation, processing is often viewed as negative for health,” Anna Rosales, Senior Director of Government Affairs and Nutrition for the IFT, told FoodNavigator.

“However, processing of food is essential and can enhance nutrient bioavailability, improve food safety, and make foods more affordable and available. Emerging technologies that use less energy, minimize nutrient loss, and improve consumer acceptability are being developed, but greater investment is needed, particularly for high impact technologies, to bring these technologies to scale.”

Misunderstanding processed food

The white paper grapples with the widespread conception of processed food as bad for health. Processing, it states, is how the food is made, which is different from formulation, which consists of the ingredients which make up a food.