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Opening up the black box: A systematic literature review of life cycle assessment in alternative food processing technologies

Silva, Vivian Lara, Sanjuán, Neus
Journal of food engineering 2019 v.250 pp. 33-45
case studies, decision making, food processing, life cycle assessment, processing technology, socioeconomics, wastewater
The last few decades have stood out because of the improvements made in food processing under two axes: plurality (conventional technologies co-existing with new alternatives) and sustainability (jointly with efficiency, quality and safety). This article aims at discussing how these technological developments in food processing are addressed in life cycle literature, regarding case studies in which different food processing alternatives are compared. From the examined case studies some methodological aspects were underscored to improve the application of LCA in food processing: the functional unit, system boundaries, scale and data source issues, as well as the relevance of process water and wastewater composition. Furthermore, different findings have emerged with a direct impact on future developments: the (re)thinking of technological and operational conditions (with an emphasis on cleaner production techniques), the inclusion of scale decision and consumption, and the importance of incorporating nutritional, sensorial and socio-economic dimensions to assist decision making.