Since obesity became common in many countries including America, the food industry has been facing challenges from the government and consumers. With sustainability and health now a public concern, fast-food and convenient-store food are no longer as appealing. And that’s actually a good thing. Manufactured food products are unhealthy. They’re packed with preservatives and are high in sodium and fats.
But fast-food chains and convenience stores are still essential in the food industry. You’d think that the public’s growing health-consciousness would decrease the manufactured food market, but it barely does. Big food companies are still thriving today. You’re probably craving a cheeseburger at this moment since we’re talking about fast food.
The truth is, despite the public’s increasing concern for their health, healthy choices in grocers are still pricier than a typical fast-food meal. It may be cheaper to buy separate ingredients, but turning them into a meal takes time and skill, two of which many Americans lack. Thankfully, food manufacturers adapted to the new demand and started offering healthier alternatives to greasy burger patties or pizza.
However, they still face two major obstacles: food safety and ideal nutritional content. They are obstacles because some food manufacturers may claim that they use a healthier alternative to a certain ingredient, only for that alternative to be toxic or cancerous. This is common in diet beverages that use chemical sweeteners in lieu of sugar.
That said, to overcome those obstacles, here are ways to manufacture food without harming consumers:
1. Reduce Offender Ingredients
Instead of using harmful alternatives to offender ingredients, manufacturers can cut them down. Most food companies now regularly report their progress in reducing sugar, sodium, and fats from their products. Beverage makers, such as soft drink companies, have made commitments to decreasing their calorie levels. These are great examples of heeding the public’s health concerns. Considering that fast foods are high in calories, fats, sugar, sodium, and simple carbohydrates, all of which can cause obesity, trimming them down will also lower the risks for the disease.
Reducing offender ingredients allows food manufacturers to provide healthier products without sacrificing their brands. Burger King, for example, can keep their signature flame-grilled burgers, but offer them a healthier nutritional content. Sure enough, Burger King is one of the food and beverage companies that have pledged to encourage healthier dietary options and lifestyles to children.
2. Proper Machine Use and Maintenance
If not obesity, manufactured food can cause outbreaks like food poisoning. That’s an instant ticket to being recalled or shut down altogether. To avoid that, food manufacturers must ensure that their factory workers can use the plant’s machinery properly. Improper food and machine handling can affect the food’s quality and safety.
Manufacturing food is a meticulous process. One of the most crucial stages in it is storage. In a factory, every ingredient requires different storage in different temperatures, so freezers or industry-standard drum heaters are used. Even the slightest change in temperature can already spoil an ingredient. Hence, workers and factory supervisors should maintain those pieces of equipment well.
3. Source Ingredients from Local or Organic Farms
As global health-consciousness increases, the market for organic food also grows. Food companies capitalized on this change by sourcing their ingredients from small local farms or organic farms. Others just buy out their organic competitors. Hormel, for example, acquired Applegate Farms, and Amazon bought Whole Foods.
Changing unsustainable manufacturing processes is key as well. Food companies can tap into the sustainable market by sourcing their raw materials from organic suppliers. Doing so may enable to offer non-GMO or gluten-free food.
4. Ensure Food Sanitation
Convenience-store food can be contaminated before, during, and after its manufacturing process. Factory supervisors must document each step of the production process to ensure that no contamination occurs. But realistically speaking, the documentation doesn’t often happen because of its manual nature. So instead, factories may use computerized systems to aid in their monitoring.
Also, they require their workers to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) or gear. With or without a pandemic, any worker handling food shouldn’t use their bare hands on the job. The PPE for food handling isn’t much different from that of a healthcare worker. It also includes a mask, gloves, hairnets, face or mouth shields, and even overalls worn over the uniform.
5. Innovate, Don’t Just Market
Lastly, food manufacturers should think like an innovator, not just a marketer. Major food companies historically spend only 1% to 2% of their revenues on research and development, while they spend 10% to 15% on marketing. But though that’s a traditional practice, it’s now outdated and causes them to miss out on new technologies for healthier food manufacturing.
Food manufacturers will no longer be the “antagonists” in the healthcare industry’s eyes if they continue to improve their offers. In time, we may confidently say that fast food doesn’t make us sick anymore and that prepackaged meals in the convenience store can replace home-cooked meals.