Antioxidants From Food Sources

cheese-1278812_1920Food spoilage is really nothing more than a natural deterioration of organic matter. Everything in nature has to be broken down so that it can once again become part of the composition of soil. All of the various natural processes that participate in the spoilage of organic material are ultimately directed toward this aim.

Odor. Bad odor is a symptom of food spoilage. Foods that have a bad odor should be thrown out. We have already gone into the causes of foul refrigerator odor with regards the spilage of food. Yet there is another factor that we should take into consideration when talking about foul odors of food and that is that the odors can be soaked up by foods which have not spoiled and make them disagreeable to eat. In saying that, this problem does not only pertain to food which has spoiled. Nobody would like to eat a piece of cake that has adopted the odor and taste of smoked salmon, for instance. This is a major problem in the home kitchen. Luckily there are now products available that help to reduce the severity of refrigerator odor and foul taste transfer between foods. Now you can buy a refrigerator purifier that will prove invaluable in the prevention of refrigerator odor. This product is a real food saver. Small air filters for fridges are also available.

When we define food spoilage we can say that spoilage of food pertains any disagreeable change in the nature of food from the normal condition that we expect. These changes may compromise food hygiene. We are able to distinguish these changes through use of our senses. For instance, food may change visually, it may change in smell, to the touch or in taste. In saying that, we use some forms of what technically amounts to food spoilage, in a controlled way, to achieve a desired effect, as in Camembert cheese for instance. We crave the runiness of the cheese that is produced by specially selected bacteria and mould to produce an effect which many of us find pleasing to eat. Other examples of controlled food deterioration include Danish blue, Gorgonzola, Stilton and many other forms of cheese. We also tenderize meat such as game by jugging it or purposely speed up the deterioration process of meat when we inject lactbacillus bacteria into steak to mimic the ageing process. In short and in technical terms, food spoilage works for us easily as much as it works against us.

Nevertheless, food does spoil because once the fruit of vegetable has been picked or the animal has been slaughtered, the natural processes and defences of the organism are compromised and exposure to the outside environment causes a number of inevitable changes to occur.

The factors which bring about these changes include, air and oxygen, light, moisture, microbial growth factors and ambient temperature. Some of these changes indicate poor food hygiene and cross contamination and others point to chemical reactions and changes due to physical phenomina. Let’s go through the various causes.

Air and oxygen: Air comprises of about eighty percent nitrogen and about twenty percent oxygen. The level of oxygen in the air is too great for most organisms and therefore organisms have developed strategies to counter the harmful effects of oxygen. Our lungs are lined with a substance called surfactant. Surfactant provides a necessary barrier between the tissue of the lung and the oxygen in the air to counteract the caustic effect of the oxygen upon the lung tissue. Our bodies and the bodies of other organisms produce anti oxidants to counter other undesirable reactions of oxygen with substances called free radicals. By binding to free radicals, anti oxidants prevent reactions which are harmful to our bodies. When an organisms no longer has the support of it’s various physiological support systems, the chemical make up of the organism will start to react with the oxygen in the air.

Micro organisms which require the presence of oxygen in order to metabolize organic tissue, such as aerobic bacteria and moulds, are able to colonize those areas of the flesh which are exposed to the air. The will form colonies upon the food and start to metabolize the flesh of the organism and divide at a rate of one division every twenty minutes per bacterial cell. In some cases as few as one thousand bacteria can be enough to contitute a food hygiene risk.

Enzymes, particularly oxidizing enzymes, which react with oxygen also aid the process of food spoilage. In vegetables enzymes such as catase and peroxidase cause the familiar browning of the flesh of foods such as apples and potatoes. Enzymes are substances which speed up chemical reactions and enzymatic reaction with oxygen in organic matter causes the degeneration of the matter to hasten considerably. In cooking a rapid heat treatment known as blanching is used to cancel these enzymatic reactions. Enzymatic changes do not usually render food inedible but if combined with microbial infestation such as mould or certain bacteria the ingestion of such spoiled food would constitute a food hygiene risk.

Water: water is the most abundant substance in nature. All organisms are made up of at least seventy percent water. The water within an organism when it is alive is termed as bound water because it is chemically connected to other substances within the body. All living organisms maintain a certain level of chemical concentration. This is said to mimic the concentration of sea water from which all living organisms originate. Concentrated fluids flow around the cells and each cell contains within it a carefully controlled liquid environment. The balance between the concentration of the fluids which flow around the cell and the fluid which exists within the cell is carefully regulated by the central control system of the organism, whether it be plant or animal. In higher organisms this process is called homeostasis.

Once a plant or an animal has been cut into smaller parts, the tissues whose fluid environment was once carefully controlled are now exposed to the environment. When the organism’s flesh comes into contact with moisture a physical phenomenon occurs. All substances in nature try to match their concentration levels to other substances around them, This is called diffusion. The flesh of an organism, when exposed to water will soak up the water in an attempt to dilute the concentration levels within the flesh of the organism to the concentration levels around it. This may cause the cells of the organism to explode by being too full of water. This form of tissue deterioration is a major cause of food spoilage. This intake of moisture into the tissue of the food source is the perfect vector for micro organisms to infest it. This is a very good example of how food spoilage occurs and food hygiene breakdowns happen.

In addition, excess “free” water within or around the cell gives bacteria the perfect medium in which to operate. In bacterial terms this is like a super highway in which bacteria are able to spread throughout the flesh of an organism. Water within an organism can be controlled by a) dehydration, b) freezing or c by the addition of food preservatives.

Light: Spoilage of food which is caused by light is called photo degeneration. All food is exposed to light at some time or another. Light can be either natural light or artificial light. Light, like all other forms of energy is made up of different wave lenghts. At the outer ends of the light spectrum we have infra red and ultra violet light which can vary in intensity in different parts of the world. These forms of light radiation are known to be harmful and can cause dead and live tissue to react in negative ways.

Exposure to light sources can cause foods to change in nature. Pigments may change, as may vitamin levels, fats and proteins. In solid foods the density of the material such as in meat may block deep penetration of light and therefore the effects of light may only cause changes to happen on the surface of the product. In liquids light penetration can be much deeper and therefore the effects of photo degeneration can be much more substantial.

Microbial growth. Micro organisms play a vital role in the balance of nature. Bacteria and other types of microbes haves each evolved to fill a specific niche. Some bacteria have developed a symbiotic relationship relationship with living organisms and some have developed a parasitical relationship. Healthy organisms manage to keep parasitical bacteria at bay through their immune systems and homeostasis. However, parasitical bacteria are constantly on the look out for signs of weakness and it is their job to bring about the rapid demise of sick organisms and to ensure that they are re cycled back into the environment through the process of tissue deterioration and degeneration. In prehistoric times man did not store much food. He ate from hand to mouth and so food did not have much time to go off. Modern man, because of his lifestyle, needs to store food and to do this he needs to effect a different kind of environmental control in comparison to prehistoric man.

In a previous chapter I mentioned that psicrophilic bacteria can cause food spoilage at low temperatures. In cold climates landscapes freeze for many months and animals find it difficult to survive. Weaker animals die during the winter months and remain frozen until the beginning of the thaw in spring. Although thawed a carcass may remain too cold for many types of bacteria to develop and it is for this reason that certain bacteria adapted to this niche so that the detioration of the carcass could begin. This process helps to ensure that the period of time during which more pathogenic bacteria infest the carcass and hence spread into the environment is considerably lessened. This is the function and importance of psicrophilic bacteria in nature. We can control the undesirable effects of psicrophilic bacteria in our cold stores through the implementation of a good hygiene regime.

In general, sources of food contamination come from the environment particularly from, animal wastes, soil, water and air. Here the “Four stages of food hygiene” come into play. Great care must be taken to make sure that food comes from safe sources, that food does not come into contact with other bacterial sources, that bacteria does not have conditions for growth and that tools and work surfaces are kept free from bacteria. food hygiene regime and temperature is all critical here. Don’t make mistakes or cut corners and bacteria will not develop.

Temperature. Temperature is probably the single most important environment which we can control to prevent the spoilage of food. Temperature regulates several changes in the nature of organic matter. Firstly it slows down chemical reactions within the food. Secondly it can prevent the ggrowth development of bacteria or destroy bacteria through cooking, Temperature regulation can control the destruction of vitamins and prevent dehydration and ripening of food.

However, temperature need to be professionally controlled. Over freezing can cause surfaces to crack of the development of ice crystals at microscopic levels can puncture cells causing the flesh to become soft and pulpy. Pigment can be lost and chemicals within the food may react and loose much of their nutritious value. This process is commonly called freezer burning.

In cold stores vegetables and fruit are best held at temperatures of around 10 degrees Celsius. meats should be chilled to four degrees Celsius and frozen food should be stored at -18 degrees Celsius for a period not exceeding six months in most cases. Aaways make sure that you follow manufacturers storage instructions. If in doubt don’t be afraid to contact the manufacturer or importer to get their advise.

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In our modern world there’s no question that we all live longer and healthier lives than our forefathers. In saying that we have to remember that life has, in many ways, greater demands on us and we need to stay super fit to remain competitive. Our environment is constantly churning out poisonous chemicals  that react with Free oxygen in our bodies. These chemicals cause damage which we call free radical damage. Free radicals also play a crucial role in areas of food hygiene both directly and indirectly.

Many types pf anti oxidants are used in the food industry. These anti oxidants play a number of roles. Some are used to counter bad odors in food. These odors can come from a number of different causes. Poultry, especially turkey often has unpleasant odors even though the meat itself is not contaminated.  A lot of this has to do with the way the animal is reared.

Battery grown turkeys are reared in very crowded conditions. There is a lot of dust in the air and the turkeys droppings accumulate as deep litter  more and more until the turkey is literally walking on a layer of droppings that can reach one foot in thickness. In these conditions the birds feathers are constantly in contact with droppings and as you know the feathers pass through the skin into the  lower lawyers of tissue. In conditions such as these there is absolutely no way that the meat of the turkey will not be affected by the conditions in which the turkey is forced to live.

It is for this reason that the poultry meat industry uses antioxidants to counter the odors of turkey meat.

Other reasons for using anti-oxidants in the food industry include to increase the shelf  life of products by using natural anti-oxidizing substances that will help to prevent chemical reactions within the meat that can cause bacteria to begin to develop.

So antioxidants play a crucial role in the food industry which has very clear implications for food hygiene by preventing the development of undesirable qualities within potentially vulnerable products and by lowering the risk of contamination through the neutralization of free radicals that help harmful bacteria to develop.

At a personal level we can lower the risk of free radical harm by making sure that we have a sufficient intake of natural antioxidants. By providing our bodies with a constant supply of antioxidants we fortify the anti-oxidizing systems already in place within our bodies. This makes the fight against disease easier for our natural defenses.

In this lens I will talk about and give you ideas on how you can slow down free radical damage, quite considerably By making drinks from fruits, vegetables, and herbs that are all readily available to us in our grocer’s store or which we can grow in our gardens, it we are lucky enough to have access to a plot of land.

Vegetables, Fruits And Herbs For Making Health Drinks.

 Here’s a list of products that you can use to make anti-oxidizing drinks:

Fruits:
Kiwi, Persimmon, Noni, Papaya, Cranberry, hibiscus (a flower), blueberry, blackberry, red currant, elderberry, Black currant, bilberry Carob, acai berries, Strawberry, Apple, Passion fruit, Tamarind, red grapefruit.

Vegetables:
Broccoli, carrots, peas, snow peas, alfalfa sprouts, sunflower sprouts, bamboo sprouts, red cabbage, tomatoes, pumpkin, sweet potato, green cabbage, red peppers, pine nuts, wheat grass, onions, Spring Onions, garlic, beetroot, asparagus, aloe Vera, hops, Fennel Kale.

Herbs and Spices:
Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, Basil, oregano, wild hyssop, coriander, parsley, dill, tarragon, mint, Louisa, melissa, lemon grass, ginger, aniseed, cumin seed, cardamon seed, caraway seed, vanilla pod, Clove.

Note: The dry seeds need to be re hydrated before use. Do this in water that has ice in it in the fridge.

Aloe Vera and carob come in the form of concentrates which can be bought at health food stores or at really good department stores or hypermarkets.

The first recipe that I would like to tell you about is really great for people who suffer from stomach problems and it contains a few things not in the product list above.

I like to prepare this drink on a base of carrot juice because it is gentle on the stomach.

Ingredients:
carrots, ginger, aloe vera, lemon grass, stevia (best from “sunrider”),

Extract juice from carrots and a decent sized piece of ginger. Add about 25ml. of aloe vera concentrate, extract juice from lemon grass, add about 10 drops of stevia per glass. MIX AND DRINK.
For optimal results this recipe should be taken 3-4 times a day. Stevia is a natural sweetener and has the added benefit of speeding up the recovery of stomach lesions.

Fruit Detox Drinks

*Here’s another of my recipes that’s really tasty.

Ingredients: Persimmon, Kiwi, Papaya, Passion fruit.

This recipe is a tropical delight and it doesn’t matter how much of which to put in. Just use as much as you have or experiment to find your favorite combination.

*Another favorite of mine is mixed berries. This can be a little expensive if the berries are out of season so go by what you can afford.

Red currant, Bilberry, Blackberry, blackberry and Cranberry,

Mix in a blender, Blitz and then pass through juicer or just drink.

*A real favorite is a strange combination to many people but it works really well.

Ingredients:
Carob, Tamarind, Carrot juice And Acai Berry (a Brazilian palm fruit).

The secret here is to use the carob to sweeten the mixture. Just put everything through the Juice extractor and stir well or blend.

*The next recipe involves hibiscus flowers which should be bought dried from your health food store. Put a couple of tablespoons of hibiscus in boiling water and leave to stand until the water is dark red.

To this add red grapefruit, apple juice and elderberry juice or juice of any other berry.

So I’ve given you a few ideas for great detoxifying drinks but really you can mix anything out of the list I gave you in any combination. A general rule of thumb when making your mixes is to mix different colors. The different colors have different antioxidant groups in them. Also, try to make your drinks as pulpy as possible, that way you are also taking advantage of the dietary fiber within the fruit.

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