Causes of Food Spoilage (ANC-1)

The food gets spoiled majorly because of the microorganisms and natural enzymes, rodents and isects also cause food spoilage.

1. Microorganisms:

Microorganisms are present everywhere and they contaminate food very easily. Microorganisms are present in air, water, soil, skin of the cattle, poultry products and even in the intestine and cavities of animals. They are also present on the vegetable skin, peel of fruits, utensils and equipment and tools, person handling food may have it on skin, clothes and hands. Normally they are not found in healthy skin of animals such as flesh of animals but may be near or around it and ready to break in the skin. Examples of bacteria are yeast, moulds, algae and other protozoans. These microorganisms feed on the food they live in to cause changes in taste, appearance, aroma and many more to indicate spoilage. However, curd is one example where bacteria or microorganisms does a desirable change and this is done by a bacteria called lactobacillus and gives a distinctive flavor to the curd. Vinegar is also obtained by the bacterial action.

a) Bacteria:

These can be of any shape example curved, long, corkscrew but can be viewed with the help of a microscope. They may be very small in size but the extent to which they can spoil the food is not to be compared to their size. They can change the taste, appearance, composition and spoil the food. These are one of the major reasons of spoilage of poultry products and the food that are distinctively acidic or alkaline in nature. They multiply rapidly on neutral foods such as vegetables, milk, meat, and fish. Bacteria can be killed by direct sunlight or boiling in most of the cases, while low temperature affect high growth.

b) Yeast

Yeast is another type of microorganism which causes food fermentation and fermentation is not undesirable. In some of the food preparations, it is used, example making idli, bread, dhokla. However. after a certain point it causes spoilage. The extent of fermentation that can harm food depends upon the alcohol produced, as more alcohol means more spoilage. Fermentation happens easily in the fruit juices with little sugar and if they are cooked. They bubble of carbon dioxide can be seen on the surface.

c) Moulds

Minute plants are called moulds. They grow in warm damp and dark places. They look very ugly such as hairy black look on the bread or the grey growth on cheese and sweets made of khoa. Though they do not produce any harmful effects on food as you can remove the affected part of the food and eat the rest which is not at all risky. It need to be thrown when the growth is heavy and covers the whole mass of food where food should be discarded. Mould in large quantity is well visible and imparts a noticeable flavor. Mycotoxins are the moulds that produce toxic materials, example, Aflatoxin produces by mould on groundnuts.  

2. Natural Food Enzymes:

As we all know that enzymes help in the process f digestion and all the healthy plants and animals have their own set to help in the process of digestion, respiration and germination. These enzymes do not die even if the food is harvested or the animal has slaughtered. In some cases this process is desirable such as ripening of fruits. But after a certain point of ripening, it starts deteriorating the food. The over ripening of bananas and other fruits are some examples. The spoilage during the transportation or in the market happens because of these active enzymes. This can be controlled by quick transport and low temperature. These enzymes can be inactivated by heat, chemicals, and radiation.

3. Insects and Rodents:

These destruct mainly cereals, grains, vegetables, and fruits. Both in the fields and in the storage warehouses these worms, bugs, weevil, and moths damage the food. They eat the food and leaves them open to other damages such as bacteria, yeast and moulds, Small hole in the mango may open they way to bacteria to cause total damage to the fruit. As the rodents not only eat the food but they also contaminate by urinating and droppings in the food which harbor many diseases. Out of 10% loss of foods, 6% is due to rodents. 


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