Imagine You Invite A Few Friends To Your Home For Dinner

Imagine you invite a few friends over for dinner and you prepare the following dishes for them:

Seafood: garlic scallops, spiced yellow croaker;

Meat dishes: pork trotters with mushrooms, four-happiness meatballs and pepper chicken;

Vegetarian dishes: Four fresh roasted gluten, braised bamboo shoots;

After the meal, you can also have a bowl of pineapple in sugar water and watch "Sisters Riding the Wind and Waves" while eating.

Does it make you look particularly awesome?

But can you imagine that you don’t need to make the dishes on the table above yourself? You can just buy canned food to satisfy your needs.

When we hear the word "canned food", we usually think of "junk food", "not fresh", "not nutritious", and "contains preservatives".

But are canned foods really that bad?

Canned food does not need preservatives

Pick up any can and you'll notice the shelf life is long.

Taking a certain brand of canned mushrooms from Shanghai Canned Food as an example, its indicated shelf life is 3 years.

The shelf life of canned food in supermarkets is usually two to three years.

According to the Canned Food Alliance, canned foods generally retain their flavor for at least two years after processing, and canned foods older than two years are still safe. However, if the food is canned for too long, its color and texture may change.[2]

In 1974, the National Food Processors Association of the United States tested a 109-year-old can of food and found that the color and smell of the food inside had changed and the nutrients had been largely lost, but it was still safe.[3]

On January 25, 2019, workers at a food company in the Development Zone of Lianyungang City, Jiangsu Province, were producing assorted canned food.

Many people may think that the long shelf life is because preservatives are added to the canned food.

In fact, when canned food was invented, chemical synthetic preservatives had not yet appeared.

Canned food was invented during the Napoleonic Wars. The French government offered a reward of 12,000 francs for a method that would be low-cost, durable for long-distance transportation, and able to preserve food for a long time in order to provide food to the army.[4]

A chef named Nicolas Appert discovered that food could be preserved for at least several months by storing it in sealed glass jars and heating it. A navy officer who tasted his food in glass jars commented that "the various beans and green peas, with or without salt, retained the freshness and flavor of freshly picked vegetables." He succeeded in getting his 12,000 francs.

However, Appel did not know the principle behind this at the time. It was not until the 1860s that French chemist Louis Pasteur finally concluded that the main cause of food decay and decomposition was microorganisms, which could be killed by heating.

High-temperature heating kills the microorganisms and inactivates enzymes in the cans, and the vacuum seal after heating prevents external microorganisms from coming into contact with the food in the cans. Therefore, cans do not require preservatives to prevent food from spoiling and rotting.

This is also the reason why the canned food we eat now can be preserved for a long time without adding preservatives.

On March 16, 2020, a tuna processing company in Rongcheng City, Shandong Province, was working hard to produce canned tuna.

Nowadays, the hygiene standards for industrially produced canned foods are often more stringent.

In order to maintain the freshness of the raw materials, canned food brands will set up factories near orchards, vegetable gardens or fisheries. After the fruits, vegetables and seafood are picked or caught, they will be quickly transported to the processing plant, and then undergo preliminary processing such as cleaning and cutting.

On July 9, 2020, a food processing factory in Lianyungang City, Jiangsu Province was producing canned food for foreign trade orders in the workshop.

Next, the ingredients are canned and heated at high temperatures, around 116°C – 121°C [1].

After the high-temperature sterilization step, the cans are vacuum sealed, and the food in the cans is completely isolated from the air, external bacteria and microorganisms, thereby slowing down the rate at which the food in the cans deteriorates.

Therefore, the long shelf life of canned food is not due to preservatives, but to the processing technology.

Canned food can preserve nutrients well

Another common comment we have about processed foods such as canned foods is that they are processed and stored for a long time, and are not as nutritious as fresh foods.

However, "no nutrition" may also be our misunderstanding.

A literature review by scholars at the University of California showed that although high-temperature heating during the canning process will cause the food to lose some vitamin C and vitamin B, the vacuum seal of the can isolates oxygen, so the nutrient loss during storage is significantly less than that of fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables[5].

We need to cook fresh or frozen food ourselves. The heating process will result in the loss of approximately 15%-55% of vitamin C and 11%-66% of vitamin B. The specific amount of loss depends on the type of food.

A chef is cooking in Neijiang, Sichuan, on September 2, 2015. Stir-frying is one of the most common cooking methods used by Chinese people.

Since canned foods avoid nutrient loss during storage and heating steps, their overall nutritional content is not much different from that of fresh or frozen foods.

Studies have also found that canned foods are generally richer in carotenoids than fresh foods[7], and carotenoids are an important source of vitamin A for the human body.

Cornell University also found that the canned food processing technology, that is, heating at 115°C for 25 minutes, can increase the antioxidant activity of canned sweet corn by about 44% compared to fresh sweet corn, and can also increase ferulic acid by 550%[8].

Canned corn is as nutritious as fresh corn and can be stored for a long time

As an antioxidant ingredient, ferulic acid can effectively improve the stability and efficacy of vitamin C and vitamin E when combined with other antioxidant ingredients [9].

So saying that “canned food has no nutrition” is just a stereotype we have about processed food.

Compared to the porridge and steamed buns you eat, a box of canned sardines is much more nutritious.

Industrial canned food can save lives at critical moments

Many people look down on canned food, as the satisfaction of opening a can is far less than that of cooking a meal yourself. But if you happen to take a train or go outdoors often, or are just a little lazy, you will know how good canned food is.

For example, when you are exploring the wild and have had enough of sweet bread and biscuits, a box of canned meatballs is like a delicacy.

Because canned food is easy to store, carry, and transport over long distances, many countries’ official family emergency guidelines often recommend canned food as a family emergency reserve food [23].

Therefore, if you encounter an emergency, canned food is definitely a must-have food, and you don’t have to worry about it going bad if you buy more.

But if you are a social animal who works 996 all day and has no time to cook, opening a can of sugar water when you get home may be really sweet.

Of course, it should be emphasized here that compared to "developing" canned food at home, a better and safer way is to buy industrially produced canned food, especially canned food produced by well-known food companies, as their quality is more guaranteed.

On December 16, 2019, in Zaozhuang, Shandong Province, workers at a fruit processing company in Shanting District were producing canned fruit.

In professional canning factories, it is usually necessary to implement a series of quality control standards and monitor and control possible food contamination risks in real time throughout the production process, which is HACCP.

HACCP stands for "Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points" in Chinese. This management system will conduct inspections at every possible place where safety risks may arise and detect problems in a timely manner. Therefore, large food factories can conduct safety control over the entire process of canned food from raw materials to packaging, which can effectively reduce the risk of canned food box contamination.

Currently, many large domestic canned food factories, such as Linjiapu, Meilin, and Ganzhu, are applying the HACCP system[21].

However, it is often difficult for the canned food we make ourselves to have the same quality control as that of large factories. If it is not thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, problems such as food rot and contamination may occur.

Canned food is delicious. If you want to make it yourself, you must sterilize it/Bilibili @美厨娘私房菜

As mentioned earlier, high-temperature sterilization and vacuum sealing of canned foods can isolate various bacteria and microorganisms from food, but there is one more dangerous exception – botulism.

Unlike other bacteria, Clostridium botulinum prefers an oxygen-deficient or low-oxygen environment and is resistant to high temperatures. Therefore, if canned food is not heated sufficiently during processing, or the vacuum packaging is not tight or damaged, it may lead to the growth of Clostridium botulinum. In fact, not only canned food, but other processed foods may also produce Clostridium botulinum if the processing procedures are not perfect. This is called foodborne botulism[22].

November 2, 2019, Qingdao, luncheon meat/canned food counter in supermarket. The common luncheon meat cans are mostly made of tinplate.

Botulinum toxin cannot be identified with the naked eye and does not produce a special smell, so it is difficult to find buy bigo beans , and even a small amount of botulism toxin can be fatal. Common human injuries caused by botulism toxin are mainly paralysis of the body and respiratory system.

The most direct way to choose safe food is to buy trusted big brands as much as possible, try not to can food at home, pay attention to the production date when purchasing, check whether the packaging is damaged before purchasing and eating, and eat as soon as possible after opening the lid.

There are many ways to eat canned food in a healthy way

Of course, there are still many people who will say, "But the canned food looks like it has a lot of salt and sugar."

A diet high in salt and sugar is indeed bad.

The World Health Organization recommends that adults should not consume more than 5 grams of salt per day[10]. Too much salt can easily lead to Helicobacter pylori infection and even develop into gastric cancer.

High levels of sugar can significantly increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes[11].

Generally speaking, sugar and salt are added to canned foods, mainly for seasoning and preservation.

Canned foods usually contain more sugar or salt to preserve them.

But in fact, Chinese food itself has a relatively high salt content, and canned food is not particularly high in salt in comparison.

Taking a can of braised pork as an example, its sodium content is 535mg/100g. According to a study by the Institute of Nutrition and Food Safety of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, among 47 dishes in four restaurants in Beijing, the median sodium content of cold dishes was 580mg/100g.

The canned food you eat occasionally is not as salty as the cold dishes you eat every day.

Canned food production lines generally strictly follow a specific salt and sugar sauce ratio. Compared with our home cooking, where we may accidentally add too much salt or sugar, the salt and sugar content of canned food can follow precisely controlled standards.

If you are really worried about the high salt and sugar content of canned food, you can also pay special attention to the ingredient list when purchasing. As people pay more and more attention to the problem of salt and sugar intake, many brands have begun to produce low-salt, low-sugar or even salt-free and sugar-free canned food.

Take a kind of canned yellow peach without sucrose on the market as an example. It uses xylitol instead of sucrose in ordinary canned syrup, so the carbohydrate content is only 4.5g/100g, which is about 1/3 of that in ordinary canned syrup.

"Cat owners" can also stock up on canned cat and dog food at home in case of emergency.

Even if you buy canned food with strong flavors, you can actually try to remove the salt and sugar artificially.

American nutritionists have found in experiments that rinsing canned green beans with water before eating and filtering out the juice in the can can effectively reduce the salt content of canned food, because many canned food seasonings are only attached to the surface of the food. The average salt content can be reduced by 36% by simply squeezing and filtering; if the squeezing and filtering are followed by rinsing with water, the salt content can be reduced by 41% [13].

So if you want to eat healthily, there is always a way. But by giving up canned food, you may also give up a lot of delicious food without realizing it.

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[1] Food . (2020). The .

[2] Food . (2020). Asked .

[3] , Dale ( 1990). "The ; Old Goes ". FDA.

[4] Standage, J. (2014). Chapter 9: Fuel of War. History on the Tip of the Tongue: Food, World Events, and the Pace of Human Civilization (translated by Yang Yating). Beijing: CITIC Press.

[5] , JC, , DM, & Bruhn, CM (2007). of fresh , and and . Part 1 . C and B and . 944( 2006), 930–944.

[6] KB (2015). Food Use is with -Dense Food Group and in US and . , 7(7), 5586–5600.

[7] , JC, Bruhn, CM & , DM (2007). of fresh, , and and II. A and , E, and fiber. J. Sci. Food Agric., 87: 1185-1196.

[8] , V., Wu, X., & Liu, RH (2002). Sweet corn has . of and Food , 50(17), 4959–4964.

[9] Lisa Niven-. (2016-11-20). : F Is For Acid. Vogue.


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