Food Product material that provides the nutritive requirements of an organism to maintain its growth and physical well-being. To that end food should contain required amount of carbohydrates and fats to provide sufficient energy, protein to repair and build the body, and vitamins, minerals, fibre and water to protect the body from various diseases. Social and psychological needs and satisfying hunger are also considered in the process of selection and consumption of foods. In the process of development of food products, it is obligatory to give considerations to factors such as nutritional adequacy, food acceptability, economic consideration, food additives, food safety, food hygiene, food allergy, food contamination, food-borne diseases, food fads and fallacies, food fortification, food intolerance etc. In Bangladesh these factors exert synergistic effects on the process of development of food products and on related issues.
Food standards and safety regulations have been formulated for a number of food products in the country. In particular, laws and regulations relating to exportable food products have been promulgated. But the laws relating to a number of food products for local consumer rights need development. Poor food hygiene is a major cause of illness in the country. Almost all familial, social and even state functions commonly centre around food. Major food products in the country are cereals or carbohydrate, fish, meat, fruits and vegetables, milk products, etc. With the increase of the level of education, socioeconomic condition and exposure to the outside world, the age-old eating habits of the people of the country are undergoing gradual changes, resulting in changes in preference and taste of food products. Various food products prepared outside the country are being imported, leading to changes in the choice and techniques of production of local food items.
Food products from cereals Cereals comprise a group of plants of the grass family, Gramineae, whose seeds or kernels constitute a major foodstuff in human diet. The chief staples used in this country is rice, which provides about 93% of the cereals. wheat is the next important cereal crop in the country, which provides about 7% of the country's total cereal intake. Yearly per capita consumption of cereal in the country is about 238 kg. Lower income families consume more wheat than higher income families. Four general groups of foods are prepared from cereal grains: 1. baked products, made from flour, including breads, loaf breads, pastries, pancakes, flat breads, cookies and cakes. 2. Milled grain products including polished rice, wheat flour, cornmeal, hominy, corn grits, pearled barley, semolina (for macaroni products), prepared breakfast cereals and soups, gravy, and other thickenings. 3. Alcoholic drinks and beverages from fermented grain products and from boiled, roasted grains although these are not popular in the country due to religious restrictions. However, some tribal and non-Muslims use alcoholic drinks. Tribal people prepare their drinks in their traditional method. 4. Whole grain products include rolled oats, brown rice, popcorn, shredded and puffed grains, breakfast foods and home-ground meals made from rice, wheat, corn, and sorghum.
Food product from rice In Bangladesh rice is the single major food crop. The present level of consumption of rice is about 175 kg/person/year. Rice is mainly used as parboiled rice. It is generally cooked by boiling in water and the preparation is known as bhat. This is the staple food of the country. Certain variety of rice is also cooked with butter oil and cooking oil to produce a special dish known as 'polao'. Meat, especially chicken and mutton, are often added to the preparation to make them even more delicious. Vegetables like beans, potato, cauliflower etc are also used in these preparations. Rice is also cooked with sugar or jaggary in combination with some other additives to produce a wide range of sweet products. Preparation of rice flour is another important food product. Various traditional products like 'pitha' (pancakes) and 'chapati' or 'rutee' (flattened bread) are often prepared from rice flour. Food products like semai, and suji are highly popular and are especially suitable for children, toothless-aged people and convalescents. Paddy and rice are processed in different ways to yield a variety of products which are ready-to-eat, such as flattened paddy (chida), expanded paddy (khai), expanded rice (mudi) and a number of parched products.
Food products from potato In Bangladesh potato is considered to be a vegetable rather than a staple food. Cooked potato starch is easily digestible and hence forms a valuable food even for infants. Potato is largely grown in the cold season. Bangladesh grows about 1.5 million m tons, which represents more than 55% of the total vegetable production in the country. A small amount of sweet potato is also grown which is used for boiled or baked products. Nutritionally, potatoes are quite stable and have become available year-round through cold storage and processing technology. Normally potato curry is prepared with fish, meat and pulses in a number of combinations. Smashed potato is also very popular. Commercially fried potato products are also prepared in the country.
Food products from fish Fish is the main and most popular protein food of the people of Bangladesh. About 260 freshwater and 442 marine species of fish are available in the country. The present level of fish production in the country is about 1.5 million m tons. Per capita consumption is about 27 g/day. About 25,000 m tons of fish are dried annually. Salted hilsa is a delicious food. Some fishes like puti (Puntius species) are fermented. Fish curry is prepared with fish alone or in combination with vegetables. Fish fry is another popular dish. Fish balls or fish kabab are prepared with boiled, deboned and smashed fish to which spices and condiments are added to taste. A variety of delicious food products are prepared with hilsa to which, with mustard paste, onions, and other spices are usually added. Hilsa is also fried in oil. Most important food product is the salted hilsa, which may be cooked in a number of ways. Another delicacy made with hilsa is hilsa-polao, a dish made of hilsa and rice.
Food products from meat The most common meats in Bangladesh come from cow, chicken, buffalo, and goat. The average yearly per capita consumption of all kinds of meat in the country is only about 3.5 kg. Since meat is relatively expensive compared to cereals, its consumption is closely correlated to income levels. In some cases meat is dehydrated by drying in the sun and rehydrated prior to cooking. Meat is used mostly in the form of curry, kabab and occasionally roasted as such. Meat curry, meat-polao, biriani, bati kabab, shik kabab, sami kabab, sweet-sour meat, meat sauce, meat stew, onion meat, kalia, kopta, mosallem, tikia, korma, and a host of similar other products are prepared from meat. With due and adequate treatment and processing, chicken or beef may be equally used for these preparations.
Food products from vegetable Some leaves, roots, stems, flowers, or fruits are eaten raw as fresh vegetables and salad materials, whereas others are boiled, baked, or cooked in conjunction with meat, fish, or other food materials. More than 250 varieties of plants and their different parts are eaten as vegetables in the country. Vegetables, especially green leafy ones are major sources of vitamins and minerals, and are low in calorie and protein and high in water and cellulose. They are usually rich in iron and vitamin A and B complex. So they are called protective food. A variety of food products are prepared with vegetables either singly or in combination with other vegetables, in different forms and processes, with or without adding fish, meat, pulses or cereals. Different types of vegetables are suitable for different food products. A good salad is a mixture of some kinds of raw vegetables. Onions, green tomato, green mangoes, green chilies, olive, garlic, coriander leaves, lemon or tamarind are used to prepare sauce, chutneys or achad. In some cases sugar is also added to produce a sweet-sour taste. Halua and morabba are also prepared from some kind of vegetables especially from roots, tubers and fruit types such as carrot, beet root, pumpkin, bottle gourd, sweet potato, green mango, etc. In many cases, vegetables are processed to prepare soups. Kedgeree (khichudi), a preparation of cereal and pulses, is a popular dish. Vegetable curry is prepared with or without pulses, fish and meat. [M Kabirullah]