Extrusion in food processing consists of forcing soft mixed ingredients through an opening in a perforated plate or die designed to produce the required shape. The extruded food is then cut to a specific size by blades. The machine which forces the mix through the die is an extruder, and the mix is known as the extrudate. The extruder is typically a large, rotating screw tightly fitting within a stationary barrel, at the end of which is the die.
Extrusion enables mass production of food via a continuous, efficient system that ensures uniformity of the final product. Food products manufactured using extrusion usually have a high starch content. These include some pasta, breads (croutons, bread sticks, and flat breads), many breakfast cereals and ready-to-eat snacks, confectionery, pre-made cookie dough, some baby foods, full-fat soy, textured vegetable protein, some beverages, and dry and semi-moist pet foods.