Early scientific research into food technology concentrated on food preservation. Nicolas Appert's development in 1810 of the canning process was a decisive event. The process wasn't called canning then and Appert did not really know the principle on which his process worked, but canning has had a major impact on food preservation techniques.
Louis Pasteur's research on the spoilage of wine and his description of how to avoid spoilage in 1864 was an early attempt to apply scientific knowledge to food handling. Besides research into wine spoilage, Pasteur researched the production of alcohol, vinegar, wines and beer, and the souring of milk. He developed pasteurization--the process of heating milk and milk products to destroy food spoilage and disease-producing organisms. In his research into food technology, Pasteur became the pioneer into bacteriology and of modern preventive medicine.
Developments in food technology have contributed greatly to the food supply and have changed our world. Some of these developments are:
In the past, consumer attitude towards food technologies was not common talk and was not important in food development. Nowadays the food chain is long and complicated, foods and food technologies are diverse; consequently the consumers are uncertain about the food quality and safety and find it difficult to orient themselves to the subject. That is why consumer acceptance of food technologies is an important question. However, in these days acceptance of food products very often depends on potential benefits and risks associated with the food. This also includes the technology the food is processed with. Attributes like "uncertain", "unknown" or "unfamiliar" are associated with consumers' risk perception and consumer very likely will reject products linked to these attributes. Especially innovative food processing technologies are connected to these characteristics and are perceived as risky by consumers
Acceptance of the different food technologies is very different. Whereas pasteurisation is well recognised, high pressure treatment or even microwaves are perceived as risky very often. In studies done within Hightech Europe project, it was found that traditional technologies were well accepted in contrast to innovative technologies.
Consumers form their attitude towards innovative food technologies by three main factors mechanisms. First, knowledge or beliefs about risks and benefits which are correlated with the technology. Second, attitudes are based on their own experience and third, based on higher order values and beliefs. A number of scholars consider the risk-benefit trade-off as one of the main determinants of consumer acceptance, although some researchers place more emphasis on the role of benefit perception (rather than risk) in consumer acceptance.
Rogers (2010) defines five major criteria that explain differences in the acceptability or adoption of new technology by consumers: complexity, compatibility, relative advantage, trialability and observability.
Acceptance of innovative technologies can be improved by providing non-emotional and concise information about these new technological processes methods. According to a study made by HighTech project also written information seems to have higher impact than audio-visual information on the consumer in case of sensory acceptance of products processed with innovative food technologies.