Co-optimization of safety, quality and legislation: opening Pandora’s box?
Martinus AJSvan Boekel1, Pieter Fter Steeg2, Arief EDahoe3
Food Quality & Design Group, Wageningen University & Research, P.O. Box 17, 6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands
BCurrent scientific practices and legal reality are discussed related to process modeling of food quality. Historically, microbial safety was the focus, using simple first-order kinetics, known as the D-z concept. The impressive safety record of heated processed foods made this the standard in every food engineering textbook, and adopted by food safety authorities. However, procedures are empirically adjusted to prevent spoilage and extend shelf life. Points of criticism are: i) more advanced models and computational methods allow for better optimization, ii) too strong a focus on fitting experimental results rather than on predictive power of models, iii) choice of process targets and emerging targets, iv) new preservation technologies have a hard time to prove themselves when heating remains the legal bench mark, v) nutritional value, organoleptic properties, sustainability demand more attention nowadays. In conclusion, models for co-optimization of relevant quality attributes should become the focus rather than only safety; legal rules should be revisited.