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Mol Nutr Food Res. 2010 Sep;54(9):1215-47. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.200900608.

A review on the beneficial aspects of food processing.

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Wageningen University, Product Design & Quality Management Group, Wageningen, The Netherlands.


The manuscript reviews beneficial aspects of food processing with main focus on cooking/heat treatment, including other food-processing techniques (e.g. fermentation). Benefits of thermal processing include inactivation of food-borne pathogens, natural toxins or other detrimental constituents, prolongation of shelf-life, improved digestibility and bioavailability of nutrients, improved palatability, taste, texture and flavour and enhanced functional properties, including augmented antioxidants and other defense reactivity or increased antimicrobial effectiveness. Thermal processing can bring some unintentional undesired consequences, such as losses of certain nutrients, formation of toxic compounds (acrylamide, furan or acrolein), or of compounds with negative effects on flavour perception, texture or colour. Heat treatment of foods needs to be optimized in order to promote beneficial effects and to counteract, to the best possible, undesired effects. This may be achieved more effectively/sustainably by consistent fine-tuning of technological processes rather than within ordinary household cooking conditions. The most important identified points for further study are information on processed foods to be considered in epidemiological work, databases should be built to estimate the intake of compounds from processed foods, translation of in-vitro results to in-vivo relevance for human health should be worked on, thermal and non-thermal processes should be optimized by application of kinetic principles.

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