The title of a recent article in Food Technology (December 2011, pp. 32–37) on “Cleaning up Processed Foods” should trigger negative reactions for any food science and technology professional. Although the title may be an attempt at being provocative, the implications of this title for an article published in Food Technology are very serious. In a societal environment with the image of processed foods being questioned almost daily, communications from IFT should contribute to a better understanding of food processing.
About 18 months ago, several IFT members devoted many hours to the development of a science-based paper on the history and status of food processing. This paper was published in the September 2010 issue of Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety (CRFSFS) [http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1541-4337.2010.00127.x/pdf (pdf)]. The goal of the review paper was to provide a reference to be used for future publications about food processing and processed foods. The December 2011 Food Technology article does not reference the CRFSFS paper, even though the title indicates that the article deals with processed foods. In addition, terms and statements within the article suggest that processed foods are unhealthy or unsafe.
The article makes no attempt to define a processed food or recognize that food processing represents a broad range of steps required to convert raw materials into safe food products. The article contains no reference to the role of processing in ensuring safety of the food supply.
In summary, this article seems to create more confusion about the role of processed foods in meeting the nutritional needs of a growing world population. Hopefully, more careful review of the title and content of future articles will occur before publication in Food Technology.
Dennis R. Heldman, Ph.D.
Past-President IFT (2006–07)