ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Fight Spoilage & Keep Foods Fresh Longer!

Updated on October 30, 2009

Foods, like all things organic, do not last forever. They decay, rot, and are consumed by microorganisms. They undergo changes in composition, flavor, and nutritional value. The time it takes for such changes to occur depends upon the nature of the food. Some foods have built in defense mechanisms and natural preservatives that help to delay spoilage. Others spoil rather quickly and must be preserved in some manner if they are to be stored for later consumption.

Over time, people have developed numerous methods of preserving food. They range from the ancient idea of storing foods in containers to the modern technology of aseptic processing and packaging.

Natural enzymes present in all foods of animal or vegetable origin catalyze chemical reactions which cause changes in the food. These reactions will eventually lead to decomposition of the food, unless something is done to inactivate the enzymes. More specifically, such reactions result in the breakdown and softening of flesh. This then opens the door to microbial action. Enzymes are responsible for the browning and softening of fruit and vegetables. They also cause changes in the texture and flavor of meats, poultry, and seafood.

Microorganisms are a major cause of food spoilage. Yeasts, molds, and bacteria need food just as we do, and seize every opportunity to get the proteins, sugars, and minerals they require for survival. Microorganisms can be introduced to foods indirectly through the actions of insects, pests, and humans. They are also naturally present in the environment and are a normal part of the flora of many food crops. For example, many yeasts and molds are commonly found on the surface of apples. These microorganisms are native to the orchards where apples are grown. Unless something is done to stop them, they will eventually cause apples to rot. They are aided in their breakdown of the apple by the apple's own enzymes.

Some foods contain natural defense mechanisms which help to slow microbial related decay. The outer skin of an apple, when unbroken, acts as a barrier against microbial entry. However, they can gain entry with even the slightest break in the skin. Another natural defense mechanism is acidity, such as in certain fruits. In addition, some foods contain chemicals that, while harmless to humans, act to inhibit microbial activity.

The specific environmental conditions to which a particular food is exposed can also lead to spoilage. Oxygen from the air can act on unsaturated fats in meats and seafood, causing rancidity, off flavors, and odors. Light can also lead to chemical reactions which cause undesirable changes in foods. Humidity from the air and moisture from any source can increase a food's susceptibility to microbial decay. Temperature is another important environmental factor. To a certain degree, warmer temperatures lead to increased rates of both enzymic and microbial breakdown.

Thus, if foods are to be stored for later consumption, typically some means of preservation is necessary. People recognized this fact early on. They learned through observation that certain foods kept longer than others. This knowledge provided the first clues on how to preserve food for future use. Although they didn't know why, they learned that keeping food away from moisture, light, and air helped to preserve it. Thus, they developed ways to keep food away from these elements. They soon learned that cooking, smoking, drying, and salting foods aided in preservation. Fermentation, besides changing the characteristics and improving the flavor of many foods, was found to be a good method of preserving them.

Continued In: Fight Spoilage & Keep Foods Fresh Longer! Part 2


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Hal Licino profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Licino 

      9 years ago from Toronto

      Ya, hubpages has been having a bit of trouble lately on the hardware-software front... like... for about the last 6 months or so... :(

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 

      9 years ago from Ohio, USA

      Hey, I can't get to your Egg hub any more:

      "Sorry that hub does not exist." wassssup??

      Conspiracy? PETA blowback? Commies?

      Never mind. It started working again. HubPages servers... hmmmm....

    • Hal Licino profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Licino 

      9 years ago from Toronto

      Tupperware rules! That's how I keep my youthful looks at my advanced age. I sleep in it! :)

    • queenbe profile image


      9 years ago from NY

      Your photo looks like Tupperware and this product is an excellent choice for storing foods.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)