Date

2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Science

Department

Manufacturing and Systems Engineering

First Adviser

Gardiner, Keith

Abstract

Food production in the United States impacts the economy, environment, national security, and public health. Reports that the current system of production is highly vulnerable to terrorist attacks and disease have gone unaddressed for nearly 20 years as issues such as recalls of meat are unnoticed for entire yearlong production cycles and machinery falling into disrepair leaving metal shards behind in processed foods are more prevalent. The rising prevalence of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes have been linked to diet, but the American diet has not changed – largely due to the prevalence of high fructose corn syrup in quickly accessible, cheap processed foods. The American food manufacturing system is not sustainable by the environment and must be changed if current levels of natural resource depletion and population growth are to be sustained. The food manufacturing system in America resembles old mass production lines of 20th century American manufacturing – the very systems that caused several American operations to declare bankruptcy and close doors. The government subsidies and lobbies have kept big agriculture in America afloat, but changing consumer demands, rising costs, and environmental implications require a change. The change needed is the same manufacturing change that the companies that survived the demise of most 20th century American manufacturers adopted – that of Lean and Agile Manufacturing.

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