Influence of Food-Environment Interactions on Health in the Twenty-First Century
Environmental Health Perspectives
The quality and safety of foods are affected by the environment, and the quality and safety of the environment are, in turn, affected by foods and food processing. To explore these interrelationships, as they might exist in the twenty-first century, one must speculate regarding future changes in foods and food processing. Several trends in food processing seem likely to predominate into the twenty-first century, and they will be, for the most part, evolutionary in nature and of low consumer
... of low consumer visibility. These trends are greater use of foods marketed in a refrigerated state, greater use of irradiation and combination processes, greater automation and optimization of processes, and greater use of biotechnology. It is also reasonable to assume that food products of the following types will increase in importance, namely, those that are convenient (includes eating away from home), those that are tailored to specific dietary needs, those containing chemically modified components such as altered proteins and carbohydrates, and fabricated foods. If these trends in foods and food processes prevail then concern must be directed to the following areas: Microbiological concerns-refrigerated foods; food service operations; new or altered procedures for processing, handling and storing foods; and new foods or food formulations; attention must be given both to controlling known pathogens as well as newly perceived pathogens. Chemical concerns-toxicants occurring naturally in foods; contaminants; chemicals developing in foods during processing, handling and storage; chemicals used in fabricated foods; and chemicals of newly perceived importance, especially those having adverse, covert effects. Several of these chemical concerns are influenced in seriousness by composition of the food environment.