Food Engineering for a Sustainable Future

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Author: Future Manager Research Center

As is well known, the food industry has a negative impact on the environment, due to waste and pollution of water, air and soil caused by production processes.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), sustainable food has a reduced environmental impact and at the same time it meets nutritional guidelines, it is economic, accessible and culturally acceptable.

New technologies can be applied to the sector to increase productivity and efficiency, while reducing energy and water consumption and avoiding the waste of resources.

To ensure that food and drink companies promote a sustainable approach, it is necessary the intervention of a specialist who can ensure the preservation of the chemical and physical qualities of the products in order to avoid food waste.

The food engineer, a professional figure who combines chemical, physical, engineering, and social knowledge, was born to meet these new needs. The merger and the transversality between agricultural and scientific disciplines shape a complete industrial engineer, specialized in the food sector.

This job position requires a professional figure who knows specific policy and regulatory studies of processing and production methods, in order to avoid harmful and serious ecological consequences. This person must also possess excellent communication and digital skills to allow the traceability of products and the reduction of waste.

The food engineer is a specialist who is able to operate in the production, distribution and management of the food industry by applying its technical-engineering knowledge to ensure a boost to innovation and technological development of processes.

In carrying out his duties, this expert must experiment new types of operations throughout the production chain aiming to safeguard the environment by reducing the pollution of processes.

Europe is particularly sensitive to this kind of issues: specifically, in Italy, Politecnico di Milano has recently created a new Master’s degree in food engineering. This course of study is characterized by a strong focus on both products and processes; it particularly focalizes on processing technologies and production of food and beverages.

The aim of all this is to respond to the global need for access to healthy, sufficiently and equitably distributed food worldwide.

The application of a scientific and engineering approach to the food sector can therefore lead to a positive evolution of the processes towards greater accessibility to food and towards a more sustainable future.