The point that foods do deteriorate has been adequately made; but what are the causes of food deterioration? There are six major causes of food deterioration-microorganisms, action of enzymes, chemical reactions, physical changes, time, and insects and/or rodents. These causes are not isolated in nature. Bacteria, insects, and light, for example, can all be operating simultaneously to deteriorate food in the field or in a warehouse. Similarly, such causes as high temperature, moisture, and air will all affect the multiplication and activities of bacteria, as well as the chemical and enzymatic activities of the food. At any one time, many forms of deterioration may be in progress, depending upon the food and environmental conditions. Total food preservation, an ideal that can only be approached, requires that we eliminate or minimize all of these causes that may affect a susceptible food.

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