According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the food manufacturing industry is not significantly affected by economic conditions and is a steady source of employment for those with little or no formal education and qualifications. Food manufacturing can be defined as the series of processes that link raw products from farmers to food products for consumers. Raw fruits, vegetables, grains, meats, seafood and dairy products fresh from the supplier undergo a series of manufacturing processes to prepare products for sale to the public. This often includes preservation processes such as canning and freezing.
The vast number of items on the shelves in any supermarket are an indication of the vast number of processes that put them there. Animals have been slaughtered and dressed to provide the products available in the butchery department. Fish have been gutted and dressed; shellfish have been cooked. Flour, sugar, eggs and dairy products have been used to bake bread, cakes and cookies, and fruit and vegetables are available as cleaned, fresh products, and, in more abundance, as tinned and frozen products. Over the years, many food manufacturers have become household names.
Whether it is a one-person business producing hand-decorated cupcakes for local sale, or a multibillion dollar corporation manufacturing products for global distribution, quality control and quality assurance are essential components of the business. These components are necessary to protect customers from dangers such as contaminated foods and ensure they get the quality, weight and measure they are expecting from a product. They also help manufacturers to comply with all related food laws and protect themselves from litigation.
Canning is an effective method for preserving food, and millions of products are canned each year, all of which have the potential to be a health hazard if they are not treated correctly in the canning process. Products are placed in jars and cans and heated to a temperature that destroys microorganisms that cause food to spoil. Air is driven out of the container, during the heating process, and as it cools, a vacuum seal is formed, this prevents air from reentering the container and contaminating the contents.
Waste products from food manufacturing processes represent a substantial ecological hazard to the environment. There are federal, state and local laws which prohibit manufacturers from discharging biological waste into public waterways or into local sanitary sewers, without having treated it correctly prior to discharge, and without the correct permits.
Department of Labor statistics show that of food manufacturing employment, 34 percent of employees are engaged in animal slaughtering and processing, 19 percent are employed in bakeries, 12 percent in fruit and vegetable preparation and preservation, 9 percent in dairy product manufacturing and 26 percent in other activities like sugar processing, grain milling and animal feed manufacturing.
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