Food Safety: Bacteria, Spoilage
  • What are Food poisioning bacteria?
  • Do Food poisioning bacteria make people sick?
  • How do bacteria spoil food?

What are Food poisioning bacteria?
Food poisioning bacteria are microorganisms too small to be seen without a microscope that cause food to deteriorate and develop unpleasant odors, tastes, and textures. These one-celled microorganisms can cause fruits and vegetables to get mushy or slimy, or meat to develop a bad odor.

Do Food poisioning bacteria make people sick?
Most people would not choose to eat spoiled food. However, if they did, they probably would not get sick. Pathogenic bacteria cause illness. They grow rapidly in the"Danger Zone" – the temperatures between 4 and 63 °C – and do not generally affect the taste, smell, or appearance of food. Food that is left too long at unsafe temperatures could be dangerous to eat, but smell and look just fine. E. coliO157:H7, Campylobacter, and Salmonella are examples of pathogenic bacteria.

How do bacteria spoil food?
There are different spoilage bacteria and each reproduces at specific temperatures. Some can grow at the low temperatures in the refrigerator or freezer. Others grow well at room temperature and in the "Danger Zone." Bacteria will grow anywhere they have access to nutrients and water. Under the correct conditions, spoilage bacteria reproduce rapidly and the populations can grow very large. In some cases, they can double their numbers in as little as 20 minutes. The large number of microorganisms and their waste products cause the objectionable changes in odor, taste, and texture.

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