Rec­og­nize food spoilage and learn how to pre­vent it

The Review - - CLASSIFIEDS -

Many peo­ple do not think about the per­ils of food poi­son­ing un­til they hear of one or more peo­ple get­ting sick from foods they have con­sumed. Food­borne ill­nesses send roughly 128,000 Amer­i­cans to the hos­pi­tal each year, and ac­count for 3,000 deaths an­nu­ally, states the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion. Roughly one in six peo­ple will get sick from a food they’ve con­sumed this year.

Food poi­son­ing may oc­cur when foods are not prop­erly washed or cooked to ad­e­quate tem­per­a­tures to kill pathogens. Af­ter eat­ing foods that have been sit­ting out at room tem­per­a­ture for too long, which en­ables pathogens to mul­ti­ply, peo­ple can eas­ily get sick. Some­times peo­ple get sick from food that has spoiled in the re­frig­er­a­tor or even in its orig­i­nal pack­ag­ing. Learn­ing about food spoilage and re­lated ill­nesses can help peo­ple avoid fall­ing vic­tim to food poi­son­ing.

Why food spoils

Food can spoil for many dif­fer­ent rea­sons.

• Mois­ture: Foods that have a high wa­ter con­tent can de­com­pose more quickly than those that don’t. Mois­ture in foods al­lows micro­organ­isms to dis­solve food they use, and can cause chem­i­cal re­ac­tions to oc­cur in foods. Mold­ing, cak­ing and lump­ing of prod­ucts can re­sult from hu­mid­ity or mois­ture get­ting into drier foods. Con­den­sa­tion can cause bac­te­ria and molds to grow.

• Oxy­gen: Ox­ida­tive spoilage can cause loss of fats and fatty por­tions of foods. Oxy­gen can af­fect food col­ors, and com­pro­mise the nu­tri­tional value and fla­vor of cer­tain foods. Vac­uum pack­ag­ing keeps air out of foods to pre­vent spoilage.

• Micro­organ­isms: Cer­tain micro­organ­isms may be present on or in foods and will pro­lif­er­ate with mois­ture, heat and oxy­gen.

• Tem­per­a­ture: When tem­per­a­tures are not con­trolled prop­erly, food can spoil. It is es­sen­tial that foods are stored, cooked and served at the proper tem­per­a­ture.

HARD­WOOD FLOOR­ING

The Dan­ger Zone

Pathogenic spoilage oc­curs when foods are ex­posed to tem­per­a­tures be­tween 40 F and 140F, which is dubbed “The Dan­ger Zone.” The USDA rec­om­mends keep­ing cold food be­low 40 F (4.4 C) and hot food at or above 140 F (60 C) to pre­vent it from go­ing bad.

Food prepa­ra­tion ne­ces­si­ties

The CDC rec­om­mends th­ese four steps to ad­di­tion­ally pre­vent food spoilage and ill­ness:

1. Clean: Wash hands and food-prepa­ra­tion sur­faces of­ten.

2. Sep­a­rate: Do not cross-con­tam­i­nate hands, sur­faces and pre­pared foods with raw foods.

3. Cook: Cook all foods to the rec­om­mended tem­per­a­ture.

4. Chill: Re­frig­er­ate cold foods promptly. Germs can grow in as lit­tle as two hours at room tem­per­a­ture.

Rec­og­nize food spoilage

Peo­ple with­out an acute sense of smell and eye­sight, such as the el­derly, may be at greater risk of food spoilage that can make them sick than younger peo­ple. Food that is go­ing bad tends to de­velop un­pleas­ant odors and tex­tures. The health and food re­source Nutron­ics Health says that most fresh or re­cently cooked food left­overs should only be stored in the re­frig­er­a­tor for three to four days. Show­case foods that will spoil quickly by keep­ing them in a vis­i­ble spot. An Un­clut­tered Life ad­vises dis­card­ing items that have been stored in the freezer for more than six months.

Stay­ing safe and healthy means keep­ing an eye on how foods are han­dled and stored, and tak­ing steps to pre­vent spoilage.

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