By: Felicia Loo
More often than not, what we eat isn’t just food. Foods have gone beyond the norms. Obtaining natural food seems more difficult as technologies came into play. However, in turn, we have more foods, more varieties, and more technical ingredients as R&D food scientists to play with.
As many have probably heard, lab cultured meat is developing as a food choice, which is controversial among the public. Furthermore, genetically modified food has become an integrated part of the food industry, which raises the question for regulatory agencies of whether or not to label “GMO” foods.
Technology is what makes advances in the food industry possible. A subset of this technology, food processing, is a great tool for preserving foods and providing a safe and abundant food supply, but “processed foods” have ended up with negative connotations among many consumers, being associated with nutrient losses and as a contributor to the rising health issues, such as high blood pressure and obesity.
Many consumers doubt what is happening in the food industry. Consumers are concerned with a number of topics, such as chemicals added through food processing that can result in allergic reactions and have potential cancer-causing side effects. The question that pops up: Do we need so many additives and is there an alternative? Perhaps a better question to ask is “How much does the consumer really know about additives?”
Isolated cases of adulteration and mislabelling of food products continues to challenge the consumer’s trust towards the food industry. Mislabelling of fishes, such as tilapia labelled as grouper, or the addition of bulking agents to reduce the amount of actual fish required in battered fish are two examples of incidences that may damage the trust that the consumer has placed in our industry.
My question is, as a member of the food industry, are we doing enough to help consumers understand our food industry practices and what can be done to help consumers achieve their needs for safe and high quality food? Please share your thoughts below.
I think some companies are starting to be more open through the use of social media communication channels. As many people have pointed out, it’s no longer a one way street when it comes to communicating with the customer. There has to be some dialogue. And part of that dialogue is definitely to educate the consumer about different products and processes so they can make informed decisions. There is so much information out there that it’s very easy for there to be some confusion and people have every right to be concerned. It’s our job as experts in our field to spread truthful and accurate information. Great post, Felicia!