CHICAGO--Reflecting upon this century, numerous achievements were made in food science and technology, which greatly enhanced the safety and/or quality of foods. Among many innovations, the following stand out as some of the best things prior to and since sliced bread in the 1930s:
1900s: Vacuum packaging, which removes the atmosphere from food packages, invented to prolong the shelf life of foods. Hydrogenation process invented to keep unsaturated fats from turning rancid. U.S. and British patents issued for proposed use of killing bacteria in food with ionizing radiation (1905). Fruit first commercially frozen in the United States and fish freezing widely practiced. Freezing (turning all water in foods to ice) results in greatly extended shelf life and negligible nutrient losses.
1910s: First large-scale commercial pasta production in the United States.
1920s: Clarence Birdseye develops quick-freezing processes for foods and first commercializes blanched frozen vegetables. Blanching vegetables prior to freezing shuts off enzymes that cause off-colors and flavors to develop, enhancing the quality of frozen vegetables when thawed. Food fortification begins by fortifying table salt with iodine (1924).
1930s: Freeze-drying process (quick-freezing followed by drying under high vacuum conditions at a low temperature) invented to preserve food. Vitamin D first added to milk through ultraviolet radiation (1933).
1940s: Mass production of food using automation takes off. Concentrated, frozen, and dehydrated foods, such as frozen concentrated citrus juices, produced in mass quantities for shipping overseas to the military. Flour first fortified with vitamins and iron (1940). Aseptic processing and packaging (high-temperature, short-time sterilization of a food and its container independently, then the filling of the container with the product in a sterile atmosphere) is developed, increasing food quality, safety, and retention of nutrien
Contact: Angela Dansby
Institute of Food Technologists