Food processing has been in existence since pre-historic days. Slaughtering, fermenting and preserving foods with salt were the common methods used until canning began. Modern food processing emerged in the late nineteenth century.
There are many benefits associated with food processing. The removal of toxins, preservation of perishable foods that are transported from long distances and the removal of pathogenic micro-organisms are just a few examples. Today’s supermarkets would not be feasible without modern food processing methods and military campaigns would be near impossible to execute.
Processed food eliminated the time consuming task of preparing and cooking unprocessed foods and increased free time especially for working people. Food processing can be helpful to people with different allergies who are unable to eat certain food elements.
The negatives associated with food processing include the destruction of certain vitamins as a result of the heating process. In the majority of foods that are processed, there is a loss of between 5%-20% of nutrient value. Additives are another drawback. The risks of additives will vary depending on the health issues of each individual. Salt would be harmful to those with high blood pressure and sugar as an additive would be damaging to a diabetic.
Examples of food processing industries and practices include the sugar industry, vegetable packing plants, meat packing plants, slaughterhouses, canneries and fish processing plants.