Understanding the Shelf-Life of Food: When is Food Considered Spoiled?
Generally, food is considered spoiled when a consumer no longer deems it acceptable. The worst case of spoilage is when it becomes a food safety issue, where the food product may cause illness or in extreme cases death.
Less serious cases of food spoilage will find the color, flavor, texture, or aroma of the food has deteriorated to the point that it is no longer acceptable. When food has deteriorated to the point that it no longer meets its declared nutritional value, that is another case of spoilage. The time it takes for a food product to reach one of those spoilage conditions is generally termed the product’s shelf-life.
All foods naturally contain small amounts of bacteria. However, improper handling, cooking, or storage of food can result in the multiplication of that bacteria to the point that they can cause illnesses. In addition, illness can also be caused by parasites, viruses, toxins, and chemicals when they contaminate food.