The food industry appears to have minimal concerns with this topic. After all, the raw materials are natural, the processing mild and the byproducts are biodegradable and non–toxic. However, the delivery of beneficial and attractive products to consumers requires more than the simple conversion of agricultural materials and, the industry will need to consider all of its operations more critically. For example: (1) large scale processing can produce byproducts which threaten the local environment simply by the oxygen demand for biodegradation; (2) physical processes are forced to compromise between energy efficiency and unacceptable damage to product quality; and (3) packaging is an integral part of the product. These materials are less degradable than the foodstuff itself and represent a significantly unacceptable source of environmental pollution.
Examples of past and current successes will be given, together with the emerging challenges of redesign of processes and products.