Food preservation techniques have come a long ways since the old days of freeze-drying and salting. While these are still too commonly used methods to increase the shelf life of certain food products, advancements in modern technology have opened up a broad new range of options for preserving food. Today, microwaving, film coating and extrusion are used to help reduce the risk of food-borne illness, while allowing food to last for a longer period of time. So, where is the future of food preservation headed toward? Keep reading and we’ll take a look at some exciting new techniques that manufactures could be using in the near future.
Before we start, it’s important to note that the ultimate goal with food preservation is to both kill and prevent any bacteria, mold or other microorganisms from thriving. Some of these microorganisms may not pose any threat to consumers, but others can lead to dangerous forms of food-borne illness. Salmonella is one of the most common types of food-borne illness that tens of thousands of people suffer from each year. Most people fully recover from it after 48-72 hours, but young children, the elderly and pets are more likely to experience problems as a result of weakened immune systems.
One of the most effective ways to kill off microorganisms in food products is with chemicals. Scientists have already identified a number of chemicals that target these potentially harmful microorganisms, so common sense should tell you that adding them into food will help reduce the risk of food-borne illness. This process, known as irradiation, is already being used in countless products across the world. Chances are you’ve consumed an irradiated food product without even realizing it. The only problem with this method is the potential dangers associated with the chemicals being used. Since irradiation is still a fairly new preservation method, there’s not a whole lot of information on its side effects.
A more futuristic method of food preservation that’s on the horizon is nanotechnology. Contrary to what some people may believe, nanotechnology doesn’t involve mechanical robots, but rather small sub-atomic particles that are used for a specific purpose, such as preserving food. If researchers and technicians are able to produce or manipulate particles on such a small scale, they could potentially use them to target bacteria and microorganisms, which would in turn increase the shelf life of food products. These small little workers could also be used to enhance flavoring, add colouring or even change a food product’s texture.