In the world of food industry, enzymes are important to the processing and production of food. These are molecules that have a vital role in breaking down the proteins in foods. Enzymes, which are commonly called catalysts assist in the synthesis of many molecules and chemical reactions. In fact, these catalysts make many of the chemical reactions needed for the digestion and decomposition of organic materials as well as many others. These various uses of enzymes provide a basis on how this industry has evolved and developed.
Many works in the literature lay emphasis on the biological significance of these enzymes and the importance to the food industry from an environmental perspective. But the disciplines of biochemical applications have also been broadened in recent years, leaving it necessary to research more deeply into the role of these enzymes in food processing. This extends beyond the biology of food to the ecology of food and the environment. Many works in this literature describe enzymes as agents that can either benefit humans or degrade the environment through their actions.
It is estimated that over two hundred thousand enzymes are used in the food industry alone. These represent both the fundamental structures that are shared by all living organisms and the specific modifications required for specific foods. The major food processing enzymes are complex proteins, cysteines, tools, flavonoids, esters, glycosides, lignins, and other polysaccharides. Enzymes form a structure known as a proenzyme, which exists in practically all living cells, helping to regulate multiple biological processes and contribute to the bioavailability of nutrients.
Enzymes, which are generally grouped into four broad categories are those catalysts, promoters, inhibitors and cofactors. Catalysts serve to move the enzyme from its original metabolic environment to a specific destination, usually within a cell. Promoters serve to introduce more than one enzyme to a reaction, often in response to outside stimuli such as temperature. Inhibitors are formed when a certain enzyme is inhibited by another. Cofactors are used to change the activity of enzymes or to ensure their stability.
A large amount of food is processed through the use of chemicals. One of the most toxic chemicals used today in food processing is Chlorine. This chemical causes the production of chlorine resistant compounds referred to as THMs, which are an important cause of cancer. Because of the large number of chemicals used in food processing, the environmental impact of food must be considered. In addition, many chemicals used in food processing are carcinogenic or cause other health problems.
Some groups of people who are concerned about the environment are advocates of organic food production and consumption. They claim that organic food promotes better health and nutrition, better farming practices, and a more sustainable food supply. They also argue that organic food production poses less of a risk to ecosystems than traditional, non-organic farmers. For example, many organic farmers rotate their crops to keep insects from destroying crops. While this does reduce crop damage in some situations, it has no effect on environmental impacts caused by non-rotated crops.
The growth of the modern food industry has led to the need for more workers in positions that don’t involve direct contact with food. These jobs include farmhands, truck drivers, vineyard workers, dairy and poultry farmers, and others. While these occupations typically don’t require a great deal of schooling, they do require certain basic skills. Many of these jobs are considered entry level and require a minimum of a high school diploma. High school graduates hoping to find employment on the modern food industry should consider going to trade school to improve their education.
The food industry continues to expand globally. As a result, the demand for food processing jobs is expected to continue to grow. These jobs can be found throughout the globe, but the most prominent centers are in Mexico, China, and the United States. Individuals looking to join the food processing industry should consider both formal training and informal training geared towards specific job tasks.