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Application of Biotechnology in Food Processing

Biotechnology in Food Processing

Biotechnology in Food Processing: Food handling involves transforming perishable raw ingredients into edible and drinkable products with extended shelf lives. Fermentation is the process through which microbial organisms and their byproducts are utilized to enhance the edibility and prolong the shelf life of foods.

Protein Engineering

  • Biotechnology heavily influences protein engineering, enabling the modification and optimization of proteins for various applications.
  • Commercially, biotechnological processes achieve large-scale production of beneficial enzymes from microorganisms by culturing these organisms in tanks.
  • Computational methods are vital in designing proteins like Top7, with unique folds for sensing unnatural compounds. Rilonacept, an FDA-approved medication for cryopyrin-associated periodic syndrome, stemmed from fusion protein development, highlighting biotechnology’s role in drug development.

Fermentation Process

  • Enhanced dietary value: Fermentation enhances the nutritional content of foods by biosynthesizing vitamins, improving amino acids and proteins, and increasing digestibility of protein and fiber.
  • Micronutrient bioavailability: Fermented foods increase the absorption of micronutrients, making them more readily available for the body to utilize.
  • Reduction of anti-nutritional factors: Fermentation processes help to break down anti-nutritional factors in foods, making them more beneficial for consumption.
  • Familiar products: While people are familiar with fermented foods and beverages like beer, wine, cheese, and Kimchi, they may not realize the wide range of essential industrial goods produced through fermentation, including bread and savory foods.

Fortification of Foods

  • Wheat Flour and Rice (with Iron, Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid)
  • Milk and Lubricant Oil (with Vitamins A and D)
  • Double Fortified Salt (with Iodine and Iron)
  • The +F logo has been recommended to identify fortified food sources.

The Stronghold expansion focuses on enriching essential nutrients and minerals such as iron, iodine, zinc, and Vitamin D, as well as staple food sources like rice, milk, and salt to enhance their nutritional value. These enrichments may have originally been naturally occurring in the food prior to processing.

Why do we need Fortification of Food?

  • Approximately 70% of individuals in India suffer from insufficient intake of essential micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals.
  • Among pre-adolescent students, around 70% experience anemia due to iron deficiency, while 57% of preschool children exhibit subclinical vitamin A deficiency.
  • Neural Tube Defects (NTDs) stand as the most prevalent congenital abnormalities, with an incidence ranging from 0.5 to 8 per 1000 births.
  • It is estimated that 50-70% of these birth defects are preventable, with a significant contributing factor being the lack of folic acid.
  • Micronutrient deficiency, also known as “hidden hunger“, poses a serious health risk, particularly impacting economically disadvantaged populations.
  • Many individuals either lack access to or do not prioritize a balanced diet, resulting in inadequate intake of essential nutrients.
  • The processing of food often leads to significant nutrient loss, exacerbating the issue of nutrient deficiency.
  • Food fortification emerges as a viable solution to address this problem, complementing efforts such as dietary enhancement and food supplementation to improve overall nutrition.

Benefits of Fortification

  • Fortifying staple foods improves overall population health by adding supplements to commonly eaten items. Stronghold, a safe strategy, poses minimal health risks and reduces the likelihood of nutrient excess.
  • This method requires no changes in food habits or patterns, making it socially acceptable for delivering nutrients to people.
  • Fortification does not alter the characteristics of food, including taste, texture, or appearance.
  • Implementation is swift, yielding health improvements in a relatively short timeframe, and is economically efficient, especially when utilizing existing technology and delivery platforms.
  • According to the Copenhagen Consensus, every 1 Rupee spent on fortification results in 9 Rupees in economic benefits.
  • While there is an initial investment required for equipment and nutrient premixes, overall fortification costs remain low.
  • Even if program costs are passed on to consumers, the resulting price increase is typically only 1-2%, which is lower than normal price fluctuations, leading to a higher benefit-to-cost ratio.

Conclusion – Biotechnology in Food Processing

Biotechnology is key in food production, improving products like bread, beer, and yogurt through microbial culturing. It also helps prevent spoilage in dairy by pathogens. GM crops like maize and soybeans are significant advancements, and biotech enriches staple foods with nutrients. It also detects mutagens in crops, ensuring food safety.

Read also: Nutrient Based Subsidy Scheme

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