If food is not fresh or is contaminated due to some outside reasons it can cause us harm. Even if it is nutritionally good. Health can be seriously affected if we do not protect ourselves in this respect.
We need to follow cleanliness drive with respect to:
- purity of drinking water
- personal cleanliness
- kitchen garbage
Over time, all foodstuff change. Green fruits become ripe, eggs go bad. Enzymes which are naturally present cause complex chemical changes in the foodstuff that lead to ripening and then rotting.
Quite often very tiny forms of plant life called microorganisms present in the foodstuff are guilty for these changes.
These are three types in nature:
The changes can be both desirable and undesirable for our health and wellness.
Some facts about moulds and bacteria in food
- Change of milk to curds is due to bacteria
- Fermentation of various types of flour is due to bacteria. Yeast is added to the dough for bread making.
- Moulds that grow on wet leather shoes as greenish or yellow spots. Moulds on food items are ugly to look at but are not necessarily harmful.
- Anti-biotic penicillin is made by a certain kind of mould.
- Moulds are present everywhere in the air and soil and we can not eliminate them
How do we save our food from going bad?
Enzymes, bacteria, yeasts and moulds require air, moisture and temperature. Usually they need somewhere near the body temperature of about 37 degrees centigrade to be active.
If one of these three is absent undesirable effects of bacteria, yeasts and moulds can be reduced or eliminated.
All microorganisms can be killed by heat sterilization. This means we can kill microorganisms by boiling our food at high temperatures or by deep or shallow frying, roasting or baking. Milk can be sterilized by pasteurizing. After such sterilizations food can be kept in air tight containers or tin. Then it can last for a long time.
Certain water content is necessary for microorganisms to be active. Drying in the sun is a simple way to reduce moisture content in the food. This prevents activities of enzymes and micro-organisms in the food material.
Mild roasting of food items before storing is another way of preserving food.
Some chemicals also can reduce or eliminate undesirable activities. The addition of salt, acidic substances like vinegar, oil and certain spices or use of sugar syrup are other ways of keeping food from going bad and preserving for a long time.
Heating kills and cold inactivates or freezes the enzymes and micro-organisms. This is what happens in a refrigerator in which fruits, milk and vegetables can be kept for a fairly long time.
For meat and fish even lower temperatures, below freezing are required. All foods which are kept at lower temperatures are subjected to spoilage and rotting once they are taken out of refrigerator.
If food is affected by bacteria and micro-organisms, it is better to discard that food. Such a food can be harmful to your body. Infectious diseases are transferable and hence are more dangerous. Infectious diseases are caused by micro-organisms like bacteria and viruses. They are carried by food, water and milk.
Food contaminations can be prevented with the use of cooking practices like – drying, canning, pickling or refrigerator. They are used to prevent or suppress undesirable changes in food. The procedures also destroy most of the undesirable changes in the food stuff.
We use milk almost every day. It requires boiling to keep it sterile. Boiling also helps milk to last longer. Pasteurized milk is sterile in theory but it is a good practice to boil it before use.
Water also which needs attention. Water should be boiled to ensure that it is devoid of any micro-organisms. We can use water filter also. But filters need to be cleaned or replaced after a certain period of time.
Keep yourself clean
Washing your hands before starting to cook is a good practice. Similarly it is better to wash hands before eating. A daily bath and change of clothes are good habits. A clean kitchen and utensils can prevent undesirable effects on food items.