The chemical processes that take place inside food determine its nutritional value, taste, texture and freshness. Like any other organic material, food can decompose over a period of time. The importance of food chemistry lies in its ability to counter the effects of decomposition and spoilage and extend the shelf life of foods. Food chemistry is a science that studies the chemical processes that take place in food. All food products are made of biological materials that react and interact in different ways, and under different conditions.
Carbohydrates, lipids (or fats) and proteins are the main components that make up food. Other components such as enzymes, water, minerals, additives and coloring are also areas of study within food chemistry. This branch of science plays a significant role in food processing methods designed to preserve and enhance availability and quality, according to Ohio State University. An understanding of the chemical processes that take place in foods has made food supplies available on a global scale. Methods designed to counter the decomposition process are a central area of study.
The principles underlying food chemistry create the methods that make it possible to harvest, preserve, distribute, store and prepare foods for human consumption, according to Ohio State University. Grocery stores are able to provide fresh milk, canned goods, microwave meals and frozen foods because of the knowledge gained through food chemistry studies. Food chemistry plays an integral role within the food science technologies that make global supplies available, according to Ohio State University.
These technologies draw from biology, physics, microbiology, nutrition and engineering to put food chemistry principles into practice. The methods used to package and label end-use products must also comply with Food and Drug Administration requirements. Also of importance is the testing and experiments that go into creating flavorful foods for consumer consumption. Foods such as meats and vegetables can contain anywhere from 50 to 95 percent water content, according to Ohio State University.
Water activity involves the amount of water available, or susceptible to chemical and biological reactions within a food product. The amount of water activity present can determine the likelihood that bacterial growth and spoilage will develop within food materials. Chemistry methods work to reduce the amount of water contained in a material, or else counter its effects within a food product. Food quality, consumer satisfaction and government requirements are ll factors taken into account when designing food processing and preservation methods, according to Ohio State University. And while minimal processing enables foods to retain their original nutritional content, the need to extend the shelf life of end products makes processing and preservation methods necessary. The pH level present within a food product is another variable that influences flavor, texture and freshness. A pH level refers to acidity, or the lack thereof, with high acid contents being less susceptible to decomposition, or spoilage, than low acid content foods.