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A possible reconceptualization of food engineering discipline

Niranjan, K. (2016) A possible reconceptualization of food engineering discipline. Food and Bioproducts Processing, 99. pp. 78-89. ISSN 0960-3085

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.fbp.2016.04.003

Abstract/Summary

Food industry is critical to any nation’s health and well-being; it is also critical to the economic health of a nation, since it can typically constitute over a fifth of the nation’s manufacturing GDP. Food Engineering is a discipline that ought to be at the heart of the food industry. Unfortunately, this discipline is not playing its rightful role today: engineering has been relegated to play the role of a service provider to the food industry, instead of it being a strategic driver for the very growth of the industry. This paper hypothesises that food engineering discipline, today, seems to be continuing the way it was in the last century, and has not risen to the challenges that it really faces. This paper therefore categorises the challenges as those being posed by: 1. Business dynamics, 2. Market forces, 3. Manufacturing environment and 4. Environmental Considerations, and finds the current scope and subject-knowledge competencies of food engineering to be inadequate in meeting these challenges. The paper identifies: a) health, b) environment and c) security as the three key drivers of the discipline, and proposes a new definition of food engineering. This definition requires food engineering to have a broader science base which includes biophysical, biochemical and health sciences, in addition to engineering sciences. This definition, in turn, leads to the discipline acquiring a new set of subject-knowledge competencies that is fit-for-purpose for this day and age, and hopefully for the foreseeable future. The possibility of this approach leading to the development of a higher education program in food engineering is demonstrated by adopting a theme based curriculum development with five core themes, supplemented by appropriate enabling and knowledge integrating courses. At the heart of this theme based approach is an attempt to combine engineering of process and product in a purposeful way, termed here as Food Product Realisation Engineering. Finally, the paper also recommends future development of two possible niche specialisation programs in Nutrition and Functional Food Engineering and Gastronomic Engineering. It is hoped that this reconceptualization of the discipline will not only make it more purposeful for the food industry, but it will also make the subject more intellectually challenging and attract bright young minds to the discipline.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy > Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences > Food Research Group
ID Code:65618
Publisher:Elsevier

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