Packaging Topic Brief:
Developing more nutrient-rich, sustainable food supply chains aligns with the co-benefits of tackling malnutrition and minimizing food loss and waste. While food waste and nutrient loss as a function of food waste and processing have separately been a topic of much previous research, nutrient loss as a function of both processing and food waste from farm to fork has not been addressed. This critical analysis was motivated by the: challenge of nourishing a growing population, the economic impact of food waste, the societal costs of malnutrition, and the overall need to extend produce shelf life sustainably. Both food and nutrient loss and waste can occur simultaneously at various levels throughout the value chain as a function of different processing methods. Combined effects of food waste and nutrient availability/losses were determined through a systematic analysis of the available peer-reviewed research data during thermal, nonthermal, and minimal processing for tomatoes, spinach, and kidney beans. The waste and loss datasets were derived from the USDA, the FAO, and the US EPA databases. This work presents a justification for more research to reduce nutrient loss and food waste to obtain a more sustainable supply of nutrients in the food industry.
This analysis serves as a guide for food industry stakeholders concerned with nutrient retention as a result of processing and food waste in the food value chain. It also assesses the combined impact of processing and food waste on nutrient loss from farm to fork. Available nutrient retention data as a function of retort, microwave, high pressure, aseptic and fresh processing, and food waste were employed. To our knowledge, there has not been a study on food waste as a function of processing that considers nutrient retention and loss as a function of food waste within the entire value chain. A summary of specific research needs for a holistic view on nutrient retention affecting product, process, and package conditions through the value chain was presented.
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