Understanding Food Spoilage
- Food spoilage refers to changes that make food unfit for human consumption.
- This can be caused by a range of factors including bacteria, yeasts, moulds, insects, and rodents.
- Processes like fermentation, rotting and decay contribute to food spoilage.
- Signs of food spoilage may include an unusual smell, taste or texture and may change the colour of the food.
Causes of Food Spoilage
- Bacteria: Bacteria rapidly multiply under favourable conditions and can cause the food to spoil.
- Yeasts: Yeasts can spoil food by fermentation processes leading to changes in taste and smell.
- Moulds: Moulds tend to grow on top the food in the form of a fuzzy layer and can cause the food to spoil.
- Enzymes: Natural enzymes present in the food can cause the food to mature and overripe, leading to spoilage.
- Temperature: Higher temperatures can facilitate the growth of spoilage organisms.
- Moisture levels: Higher moisture content in food can encourage bacterial growth and cause spoilage.
- Acidity/Alkalinity: Acidity and Alkalinity levels can influence bacterial growth; usually bacteria flourish in slightly alkaline conditions.
- Oxygen: Many spoilage organisms need oxygen to grow. A hermetic sealing preserves food by keeping out the oxygen.
Preventing Food Spoilage
- Refrigeration slows the growth of spoilage organisms.
- Freezing can halt the growth of bacteria, yeasts and mould.
- Cooking kills most spoilage organisms. Proper cooking and thorough re-heating can prevent food spoilage.
- Materials like glass and plastic can be used to create an airtight seal, limiting the amount of oxygen available and slowing down enzymatic reactions.
- Food preservation techniques like pickling, freezing, drying, canning can help prevent food spoilage.
Consequences of Food Spoilage
- Consumption of spoiled food can lead to foodborne illnesses such as food poisoning.
- Spoiled food is a waste of resources like money and time.
- It may also contribute towards environmental pollution when discarded improperly.