The Best

One primary goal of food process engineering is to find and understand the mechanisms and phenomena that underscore a given food manufacturing process. Such basic knowledge allows the food engineer to grasp how a process works and thus operate an existing or design a new processing system. In today's rapidly changing, highly sophisticated, and extremely competitive world, however, such basic knowledge is not always enough. Often, it is important not only to know how a process works but also how it works "best." The meaning of best changes from system to system and depends on the criteria used. For example, if the chosen criterion is process yield, then the highest value (maximum) is best. On the other hand, if cost is the criterion, then the lowest value (minimum) is best. The desired extreme value (maximum or minimum) is optimum, and the values of the adjustable processing variables that produce this optimum are called the optimum conditions. The theory, methods, and techniques used to attain an optimum and to locate the optimum operating conditions are the subject of optimization. Optimization has been defined simply as "getting the best you can out of a given situation" (1). In addition, "it [optimization] opens up the possibility of achieving the very best, of reaching perfection, of choosing the superior course of action among all possible alternatives" (2).

The scope of this article is to (1) introduce the subject of optimization in simple terms; (2) clarify some of the terminology, theory, and methods used; and (3) cover some of the areas in food science and engineering where optimization is being applied or potential applications are likely to occur. The references provide more explicit and in-depth coverage of the subject.

The Mediterranean Diet Meltdown

The Mediterranean Diet Meltdown

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