Food Hygiene and Food Spoilage

More than cleanliness, food hygiene is

  1. Protecting food from risk of contamination including harmful bacteria, poison and other foreign bodies.
  2. Prevent proliferation of microorganism present in food, which would otherwise cause food spoilage or related illness.
  3. Destruction of pathogenic microorganism.
  4. Discarding unfit or contaminated food

Cost of poor food hygiene:

  1. Food poisoning, illness and sometimes even death.
  2. Food contamination
  3. Customer complaints and brand image.
  4. Pest infestation
  5. Food waste/ loss due to spoilage
  6. Penalty of legal action because of violation of hygiene legislation.

Benefit of good food hygiene:

  1. Satisfied customers, good reputation, increased business and brand protection.
  2. Compliance with food safety legislation.
  3. Less food loss

Food spoilage: Deterioration of food due to microorganism or any other agent causing the food unfit for use. Signs of food spoilage are,

  1. Off odor and taste
  2. Discoloration
  3. Slime formation of stickiness
  4. Mold growth (cottony appearance)
  5. Change in texture; soft in bacterial soft rot
  6. Production of cans (bulged cans)
  7. Color formation due to growth of pigmented bacteria or mold


Food preservation: processing of food or treatment of food to prevent spoilage of food and inhibit growth of pathogenic microorganism is known as food preservation. Principle behind food preservation are,

  1. High temperature: pasteurization, ultra violet treatment, sterilization, cooking and canning.
  2. Low temperature: refrigeration, freezing
  3. Dehydration: drying (removal of moisture)
  4. Preservatives: salt, sugar, sulphurdioxide
  5. Removal of oxygen: vacuum packaging for fish and meat

Most of the food spoilage is caused due to yeast, bacteria and mold. For food safety, following temperature should be considered for processing and storage of food.

Temperature Level of safety
37 °CBody temperature, best temperature for the growth of  most food spoilage and food poisoning bacteria
20 to 50 °CFavors growth of bacteria (proliferation)
5 to 63 °CDanger zone
1 to (-4)°CSafer zone, microorganisms stays in dormant stage
< (-18) °CNo growth of microorganism



About Author

Name : Pratiksha Shrestha

Ms. Shrestha holds masters degree in food engineering and bioprocess technology from Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) Thailand. She is currently working for Government of Nepal at Department of Food Technology and Quality Control (DFTQC), Kathmandu. She is also a teaching faculty in College of Applied food and Dairy Technology (CAFODAT) affiliated to Purbanchal university, Nepal.