Food Spoilage

 

We love to save our favourite snacks, food and fruits for having it at a later point in the day, week or month, but to our disappointment, most natural foods get spoilt if it is not consumed immediately or not preserved properly. This implies most natural foods have a limited life.

Perishable foods such as meat, milk, fish, bread, vegetables have a short life span. Other foods can be stored for for a considerably longer time but decompose eventually. After food has been harvested or gathered, it begins to deteriorate making it unfit for consumption. This decaying of food due to deterioration, leads to food spoilage.

Reasons for food spoilage

Food spoilage happens mainly due to the presence of micro organisms, enzymes, insects, worms and rats. Let's understand each of them in detail and see how we can prevent them.

Presence of micro-organisms:

Micro-organisms spoil food items when the conditions for their growth are conducive. Like all living beings they require air and moisture, right temperature and food to grow and multiply.

Conditions that promote growth of micro-organisms are:

  • Moisture content in food; Tomato has more moisture than onion thus gets spoilt faster.
  • Air around the food contains micro organisms.
  • Food kept for a long time at room temperature: Have you ever observed what happens to green leafy vegetables like coriander, mint etc kept at room temperature. It turns yellow and stale.
  • Skin of fruits and vegetables getting damaged, when exposed to micro-organisms.

To prevent spoilage of food by micro organisms, we must learn to remove the conditions which promote their growth.

 

Presence of enzymes:

Enzymes are chemical substances found in all plants and animals. Enzymes help in ripening of fruits and vegetables. A raw banana after a few days becomes sweet in taste and yellow in colour due to the enzymes action. If we you keep the same yellow, banana for a few more days, it will become soft, develop black spots and give out bad smell. This is due to continued action of enzymes. We don’t like rotten food, do we? When the skin of fruits is damaged also it gets spoilt faster due to enzymes action. So when we buy fruits and vegetables we check for damaged skin and pick up only good quality fruits, vegetables.

 

Insects, worms and rats:

Have you noticed insects or small worms in vegetables, fruits, rice and pulses? These insects eat the food grains, vegetables etc. They make small holes in the grain and at times convert the grain to a fine powder. The food grains thus become unfit for human consumption. Rats that may be present in the field area, warehouse, shops, home also damage the food.

To avoid such damage, food needs to be closed or packed carefully such that rats cannot get near them.