By Isaac Fletcher, contributing writer, Food Online
Creating more efficient food-processing systems that reduce food waste and make better use of material inputs could be an answer to the question of global food security
With growing concern over forests being replaced with crop and pasture land to support a growing global population, new food processing technologies could help address the challenges of food security and food safety. Vijaya Raghavan, international scientist and professor at McGill University in Quebec, argues, “Governments must take necessary steps through national food security policies, systems, and programs to ensure that food quality and food safety considerations form an integral part of food security systems.”
Increasing populations have also put pressure on growers with limited land to feed a growing number of people. Raghavan explains, “Food production has to double to meet the needs of a growing population. In 1960, one hectare (10,000 square meters) fed two people, it fed four people in 1995. By 2025, one hectare will have to feed five people.” With approximately 35 to 40 percent of food being wasted after harvesting, there needs to be a change in the strategy for food security through addressing issues of food loss and sustainable approaches to food production.
Several new technologies and methods are being explored to help ensure safe food processing. Raghavan says, “Recently, a synthetic bacterial genome was constructed and transformed into another bacteria cell, which is a great manipulative technology, though it may take some time to master this.” Synthetic bacteria created in this manner could be introduced to food which would then create antibiotics that would help eliminate other pathogenic organisms.
Raghavan also cites pre-cooling and storage methods and electro-technologies, like microwave, RF, PEF, and high-electric fields as potential solutions to manage issues of food security, food safety, and environmentally friendly processes. Research indicates that post-harvest technology, storage, drying, food processing, bio-energy, and microbial fuel cells can all play a role in advancing food security and safety.