Free on-line food processing information

Finding appropriate and implementable information about food processing from among the mass of on-line information is a challenge. This is especially true where connectivity is a constraint.
This is the first in a series of articles which will identifying and review free on-line information on a range of topics and sectors in food processing. You are free to write to the author (at safpp@digivu.co.za ) and suggest a topic that should be covered.

Processing Root Crops & Tubers: Small-scale Root Crops and Tubers Processing and Products, Production Methods, Equipment and Quality Assurance Practices (UNIDO Technology Manual).
Edited by P Fellows, this manual is available for free download via http://tinyurl.com/FBRDAH1 (actual URL: http://www.unido.org/fileadmin /media/documents/pdf/Amended_pdfs/32360_RootsandTubers.pdf ).
The manual is of particular interest to business people outside of southern Africa, where tubers and root crops are staple foods. It has been written specifically for Uganda but there is still an enormous amount of useful information. The book covers technical aspects of root crop and tuber processing to produce safe, high-quality products. In its 92 pages the book describes: Facilities for commercial processing; Production planning; Processing methods; Equipment and its maintenance; Quality assurance methods; and Food safety regulations, laws, and standards.
It covers cassava, coco-yam, Irish potato, sweet potato and yam, and explores the processing of these into chips, crisps, fermented products/gari, flours, mandazi and sweet potato jam. The manual includes checklists, detailed flowsheets, calculations, examples, references, contacts, illustrations and good photographs. This is the kind of detailed technical information that a businessperson could use to establish a food processing business.
Exporting Speciality Foods to Europe and US: Specialty and Processed Foods – Export Guide for US and European Markets (a West African Trade Hub Manual).
By C Nicolino and C de Cock, this 36-page manual is available for free download via http://tinyurl.com/FBRDAH2 (actual URL:    http://www.watradehub.com/images/stories/downloads /Export%20Guides/Specialty%20Foods%20Export%20Guide%20English%20Final.pdf ). 
The manual’s chapters are: Why this export guide?; Success in exporting specialty foods; Target the right partner and/or client; Trade agreements and customs coding; Regulatory requirements for accessing foreign markets; International transport; Assessing export costs to determine your price list; and Presentation of offer to buyer.
This simple, informative manual is well illustrated and includes checklists on export readiness as well as worksheets and examples of price calculations and contracts. It presents information on trade agreements and customs coding, and on regulatory and certification issues (including food security and other new legislation – for instance, phytosanitary, packaging, labelling, HACCP and Euregap). Information on ISO (9000 to 14000), organic and Fair Trade certifications, is also provided. The manual contains links to further on-line information, of which there is an enormous amount. It also presents descriptive information and definitions on shipping.

Using the systems approach – food engineering, quality and competitiveness in small food industry systems with emphasis on Latin America and the Caribbean (an FAO Agricultural Services Bulletin).
By R Cuevas, this bulletin is available for free download via http://tinyurl.com/FBRDAH3 (actual URL: ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao /008/y5788e/y5788e00.pdf ).
Although this 81-page book refers to the Latin American and Caribbean food industries, the approach is generic enough to make the information useful for any country. This is not a book on technologies and equipment, but rather on approaches to getting small enterprises to work. The book describes the characteristics of the food industry and introduces the systems approach, illustrating how it applies to the food industry through a focus on competitiveness and quality. It uses case studies to illustrate the application of the systems approach to a range of food industry issues including: How to conduct an expert’s analysis and identify critical factors for improving the use of energy and environmental protection by the small agro-industry; How to evaluate the viability of improvement in quality and competitiveness of current food industry businesses and post-harvest and processing plants; and How to apply HACPP to small food industries and their networks.
The systems approach, like HACCP, is essentially a framework that ensures a logical and comprehensive approach in all problem-solving. This book, while not as directly useful as the previous two manuals reviewed, should be read to improve one’s overall approach. – Dave Harcourt