Food processing and production

Food processing refers to the stages raw ingredients go through in order to become something we can eat.

Food production refers to the three-part production of food – input, process and output.

Why do we process food?

Food processing must happen for a number of reasons, these include:

  • making food safe to eat by killing harmful bacteria
  • making food look and taste its best by adding colour after processing
  • making foods become available that are out of season, like frozen raspberries and strawberries
  • making foods easier to prepare, this is important for people who live busy lifestyles
  • making foods have a longer shelf life by adding preservatives

What is food production?

The process of making a smoothie is a good example of food production – there is the input of ingredients followed by the process of blending them to create the final output.

Food production

Primary and secondary processing of wheat

Primary processing is the conversion of raw materials into food commodities – for example, milling wheat into flour. Secondary processing is when the primary product is changed to another product – for example, turning wheat flour into bread.

A look at the production and processing of wheat in the UK, demonstrating primary and secondary processing.

Primary and secondary processing of milk

The processing of milk starts on the farm. The farmer milks the cows two to three times daily.

Milk is then transported from the farm to the factory to be processed.

The milk is then pasteurised. This means that it is heated to a high temperature to kill bacteria, it is then cooled again.

The cream is then separated from the milk. It is added back into the milk depending on what type of milk is required – skimmed, semi-skimmed or full fat.

The final step is homogenisation. This ensures the cream (or fat) is evenly distributed through the milk which will now have a smooth consistency and is ready to be sold.

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