It takes a lot more work than you might realize to get all that food on the shelves at your local grocery store. That food has taken countless steps to be fresh and edible when you take it off the shelf. It’s not something we think about a lot, but food processing is a massive industry that we couldn’t live without. If you’ve ever been interested in how your food gets to your table, this article will tell you about the most common industrial food processing equipment around.
For things such as organic produce, there is often a fair bit of extra material that companies don’t want you to have in the final product. That’s where preparation equipment comes in. Preparation equipment refers to anything that gets the food ready to be mechanically processed or heat processed.
- Removes foreign material like dirt, skins, and chemicals
- Sorts the good food from the bad
- Removes inedible and unattractive parts of the food
When you imagine industrial food preparation, you’re most likely to think of this step. Mechanical processing includes machines that alter the food into a different form through machinery. This is where most food gets its looks from.
- Changes food size through processes like grinding, crushing, or extruding
- Mixes and blends food together
- Improves food consistency through homogenization
Thermal processing equipment, or heat processing equipment, uses the application or reduction of heat to sanitize and process food. It’s one of the most common types of industrial food processing equipment.
- Cooks and bakes food to chemically change its properties
- Reduces microorganism count in food
- Removes water through evaporation, increasing shelf life
Equipment specifically used for preservation differs from heat processing equipment, as it focuses more on reducing food spoilage. Heat processing equipment is one way to preserve food, but there are a number of other options as well.
- Introduces chemicals to stave off spoilage
- Uses radiation to destroy microorganisms
- Refrigeration and water reduction help improve shelf life
The final step of most food processing systems, the proper packaging equipment is just as important as the steps before its use. Proper packaging means containers that will allow the food to stay uncontaminated and safe during transit.
- Creates final labeling
- Ensures tight seals on perishable food
- Helps with consistency and quality control