Food is any substance eaten to supply nutrition to an organism for a specific time period. Food is generally of animal, plant or fungi origin, and usually contains essential nutrients, including proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, or mineral salts. The term food is used to refer to substances that provide the necessary nutrition for human beings and other animals and their products, stored in the body or eaten.
Food processing involves the identification, cataloguing and classifying of ingredients, preparation of the food and its packaging. This process also includes measures to remove any potentially harmful ingredients, alter the quality of ingredients to improve taste and texture, standardise the ingredients to make sure they are of a consistent quality, maintain the consistency of the ingredients throughout the preparation process, measure the ingredients in order to ensure that they do not change in size, colour, shape or other physical properties and retain the right composition as contained in the final product. Food processing requires considerable knowledge and experience and can involve a number of complex and intricate steps. It is therefore necessary for suppliers and processors to obtain and maintain food information documents that describe each ingredient, the processes involved in their production and the concentration levels of each ingredient throughout the entire production process.
The food information documents that describe the ingredients that enter into the manufacturing of a product, as well as those ingredients that are used during the production process, form the basis of all legitimate claims regarding the safety of that product and the absence of any adverse reactions when used as directed by the manufacturer or supplier. Allergy information must be collected and entered into these records before processing, so that adverse effects caused by ingredients can be identified. This information is entered into the production record keeping systems of the various processing plants, so that the plant can track all ingredients used in the manufacture of a product, and can identify if there have been any reactions that could cause an allergy. Allergens and allergen information must be entered into the customary name database, so that companies that do not include allergen data in their systems will not be able to process products that could result in an allergic reaction in a sensitive individual.