Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for the body. It is usually of plant or animal origin, and contains essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals. The substance is ingested by an organism and assimilated by the organism's cells in an effort to produce energy, maintain life, or stimulate growth. Today, most of the food energy consumed by the world population is supplied by the food industry.
Food science is the applied science devoted to the study of food. The Institute of Food Technologists defines food science as "the discipline in which the engineering, biological, and physical sciences are used to study the nature of foods, the causes of deterioration, the principles underlying food processing, and the improvement of foods for the consuming public".Activities of food scientists include the development of new food products, design of processes to produce these foods, choice of packaging materials, shelf-life studies, sensory evaluation of products using panels or potential consumers, as well as microbiological and chemical testing. Food scientists may study more fundamental phenomena that are directly linked to the production of food products and its properties.
Food technology is a branch of food science which deals with the actual production processes to make foods. Food technologists ensure food products are produced safely, legally and are of the quality claimed. Food technologists can get involved in developing the manufacturing
processes and recipes of food and drink products. They may work on
existing and newly discovered ingredients and technologies to invent new
recipes and concepts.
Food engineering is a multidisciplinary field of applied physical sciences which combines science, microbiology, and engineering education for food and related industries. Food engineering includes, but is not limited to, the application of agricultural engineering, mechanical engineering and chemical engineering principles to food materials. Food engineers provide the technological knowledge transfer essential to the cost-effective production and commercialization of food products and services.
Food safety is a scientific discipline describing handling, preparation, and storage of food in ways that prevent foodborne illness. This includes a number of routines that should be followed to avoid potentially severe health hazards. Food safety is a major focus of food microbiology. Pathogenic bacteria, viruses and toxins produced by microorganisms are all possible contaminants of food. However, microorganisms and their products can also be used to combat these pathogenic microbes. Probiotic bacteria, including those that produce bacteriocins, can kill and inhibit pathogens. Alternatively, purified bacteriocins such as nisin can be added directly to food products. Finally, bacteriophages, viruses that only infect bacteria, can be used to kill bacterial pathogens. Thorough preparation of food, including proper cooking, eliminates most bacteria and viruses. However, toxins produced by contaminants may not be heat-labile, and some are not eliminated by cooking.