Air: Oxidation, a chemical process that produces undesirable changes in color, flavor and nutrient content, results when air reacts with food components. When fats in foods become rancid, oxidation is responsible. Discoloration of light-colored fruits can be reduced by using an antioxidant, such as ascorbic acid or citric acid, before freezing. Vapor-proof packaging that keeps air out also helps reduce oxidation problems.
Light: Exposure could result in color and vitamin loss. Light also may be responsible for the oxidation of fats.
Insects, Rodents, Parasites and Other Creatures: These creatures require food to survive and damage food, making it more vulnerable to further deterioration.
Physical Damage: Bruises and cracks on raw produce leave areas where microorganisms easily may grow. Improperly packaged foods, dented cans and broken packages provide places for microorganisms, air, light, and creatures to enter. Gentle handling of food items will help maintain food quality and safety longer.
Temperature: Affects storage time, and food deteriorates faster at higher temperatures. Microorganisms, both spoilage and pathogenic, grow rapidly at room temperature. To slow microbial growth, the enzymatic and oxidation processes, store foods at lower temperatures. Recommended temperatures for storage areas are:
· Cupboard/Pantry 50-70°F
· Refrigerator 34-40°F
· Freezer 0°F or below
Time: Microorganisms need time to grow and multiply. Other reactions, such as oxidation and enzyme action, also require time to develop. Purchase reasonable quantities, especially of perishable foods, to help avoid long-term storage.