Food Standard and Quality Control

Lesson 06 : Factors affecting food quality


To guarantee that food reaches the consumer in a healthy and unspoiled condition, it has to go through several processes. One of the reasons why we process food is to eliminate and/or prevent the microbes - present in all foodstuffs - from multiplying and spoiling food and potentially causing disease. Processing also aims to prevent food spoilage by deactivating enzymes and preventing oxidation. Enzymes are natural biological agents which break down proteins, fats and carbohydrates. If left uncontrolled, enzymes would continue to break down the food itself. Fats in food have to be prevented from reacting with oxygen in the air which can make them go rancid.

The best known processing methods used to improve food safety are heat treatments such as pasteurization and sterilization, where foods are heated to destroy any harmful microbes and enzymes. Processing also includes refrigeration and freezing which slow down enzyme action and stop harmful microbes growing. Drying food products such as pasta and cereals deprives microbes of the water they need to multiply.

Food additives have an important role in food processing. Anti-oxidants prevent fats and oils from becoming rancid, while stabilisers and emulsifiers stop ingredients like oil and water separating and altering the quality of a product

Last modified: Thursday, 16 February 2012, 7:09 AM