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Food Management


The complex activity of preserving the food produced so that it can be distributed and used throughout the year is known as food management.

An efficient management of the food produced involves several steps. The movement of food from the producer to the consumer involves transportation, storage, processing, packaging, marketing and distribution. The first stage in food management is the transportation of food to the storage place. The spoilage of food during transportation may occur due to the exposure of food to heat and frost. The loss of food may also be due to spillage, breakage and leakage at this stage. loss can be prevented by careful transportation.

The food has to be protected from rodents, pests, microbes and fungi. The storage structures must be suitable for storing various food substances. Faulty storage methods will also result in the spoilage of food. Characteristics and factors responsible for food spoilage is shown in Figure 8.1.



Effects of food spoilage on various food commodities are as follows:

  • Protein food gets putrefied when they are contaminated. This is the situation where protein foods rot and produce very bad smell.
  • Fats and oils go rancid.
  • Cooked cereals become marshy and slimy when affected by micro-organisms. This condition is known as serenesis. Flour products smell and taste unpleasant when spoilt. They are described as being stale.
  • Fruits and vegetables rot, ferment and decay.

Sometimes, the food materials have to be changed to different forms to make it convenient for storage and to make them available for immediate use. The processing of food to prevent their spoilage and to retain their nutritive value for long periods is called food preservation. The processed foods are carefully packed and sealed. This is known as packaging. Food substances such as suji, atta, dry fruits, sugar, tea and coffee are examples of processed foods.

Food preservation helps us in the following ways:

  • Reduces wastage of food.
  • Increases the storage period.
  • Helps to transport food to distant places.
  • Helps to store food for seasons when they are not available.

Food can be preserved using many methods as follows:

  1. Boiling or heating at high temperature (sterilisation): Boiling water kills all bacteria except their spores. Higher temperatures (about 110°C) at increased pressure kill even the spores. The canning industry employs heating to kill bacteria before packing and sealing food.
  2. Salting: Salting is a common method of preserving foods such as fish, pickles etc. for long periods of time. By mixing these foods with salt, their bio-degradation is prevented under normal conditions. Treatment with salt for preservation purposes is called curing.
  3. Dehydration (drying): Most microbes cannot grow without water. Therefore, dehydration by drying of foods such as grains, meat, fish, vegetables etc. is an effective method of preservation.
  4. Irradiation: Radioactive radiation has been tried in sterilising certain foods without themselves becoming radioactive, but the practice is not yet in much use. Similarly, ultra-violet light is found useful, not only in sterilising air in schools, hospitals and factories, but also in killing mould spores in bakeries.
  5. Pasteurisation: It is a technique of partial sterilisation applied usually to milk. Pasteurisation kills a majority of the bacteria that are present, including the disease causing ones.
  6. Refrigeration (cold temperature): Microbes (bacteria and moulds) do not grow and multiply at or below the freezing point of water. Chilling of milk and keeping vegetables and fruits in a cold storage are popular methods of preserving them. Frozen fish or frozen vegetables keep fresh for a long time. Domestic refrigerator cools at 0–5°C for short-term storage. Deep freezing cools at -20°C to -30°C for long-term storage.
  7. Strong concentration and chemicals: Jams and pickles do not get spoiled. They have a strong concentration of sugar and salt, respectively. The increased concentration of the solutes causes plasmolysis and death of any bacteria or mould that may creep in. Sometimes preservatives such as sodium benzoate are also added to tinned foods and squashes.
Table shows the types of food preservation, their advantages and disadvantages.






• Prevents microbial growth by low temperature and unavailability of water

• Generally has good retention of nutrients

• Blanching of vegetables before freezing causes loss of some B-group vitamins and vitamin C


• Slows microbial multiplication

• Slows autolysis by enzymes

• Slow loss of some nutrients with time


• Inactivates autolytic enzymes

• Destroys microorganisms

• Loss of heat sensitive nutrients


• Destroys microorganisms and autolytic enzymes

• Water-soluble nutrients can be lost into liquid in can


• Sterilises foods (such as spices) whose flavour would change with time

• Inhibits sprouting in potatoes

• Extends shelf life of foods

• Longer shelf life of fresh foods can lead to greater nutrient losses

• Causes changes to the taste or genetic changes to fruits that may be undesirable

Drying (Freeze-drying, spray-drying, sun-drying)

• Produces concentrated form of food

• Inhibits microbial growth and autolytic enzymes

• Retains most nutrients

• Can cause loss of some nutrients, particularly thiamine and vitamin C

Adding salt or sugar

• Makes water unavailable for microbial growth.

• Process does not destroy nutrients.

• Increases salt and sugar content of food


• Prevent microbial growth.

• No loss of nutrients.

Some people are sensitive to some chemical preservatives


Food adulteration is the process of lowering the nutritive value of food either by removing a vital component or by adding substances of inferior quality. An adulterant is a substance which degrades (lowers) the quality of food.

The act of adulteration may be accidental or deliberate. Accidental adulteration may be due to negligence or ignorance. Deliberate adulteration of food is to increase the margin of profits. Adulteration, accidental or deliberate, will affect human health (Table).


Food Items


Diseases or Health Effects

Mustard seeds

Argemone seeds

Epidemic dropsy (abnormal accumulation of fluid beneath the skin)

Cumin seed, poppy seed, black pepper

Artificially coloured seeds

Injurious to health


Foreign leaves or exhausted tea leaves, saw dust artificially coloured

Injurious to health, cancer

Suji, tea leaves

Iron fillings

Possibility of tetanus


Rancid oils

Destroys vitamin A and E

Oils and black pepper

Mineral oil (used motor oil)

Diarrhoea, vomiting, cancer

Food grains, pulses etc.

Sand, marble chips, stones, filth

Damage digestive tract


Lathyrus sativus (kesari dhal)

Paralysis of legs

Turmeric whole and powdered, mixed spices

Lead chromate

Anemia, abortion, paralysis, brain damage

Turmeric, mixed spices, saffron, dehusked pulses, rice, golden beverages

Metanil yellow

Tumours, cancer, testicular degeneration in males

Alcoholic liquors


Blurred vision, blindness, death


shows the food adulterants and their respective methods to detect them.


Food items



Mustard seeds

Argemone seeds

Mustard seeds have a smooth surface. The argemone seeds have grainy, rough surface and are blacker and hence can be separated out by close examination.

Rice and wheat

Sand, marble chips, stones

Visual examination will help.


Kesari dhal

Add 50 mL of dil. HCl to dhal and keep on simmering water for about 15 minutes. Pink colour if developed indicates the presence of kesari dhal.


Metanil yellow

Take a teaspoonful of turmeric powder in a test tube. Add a few drops of conc. HCl. Instant appearance of violet colour which disappears on dilution with water. If the colour persists, metanil yellow is indicated.


Exhausted tea leaves

Tea leaves sprinkled on wet filter paper would immediately release colour.

Dye or artificial colour

Spread a little slaked lime on white porcelain. Sprinkle a little tea dust on the lime. Red orange shade spreading on lime indicates the presence of dye. In case of genuine tea, there will be only a slight greenish yellow colour.

Iron filings

Spread the tea leaves on a paper. Draw a magnet over it. The iron filings if present are attracted by the magnet.

Coffee powder


Gently sprinkle the coffee powder sample on the surface of water in a glass. The coffee float over the water but chicory begins to sink down within a few seconds. The falling chicory powder particles leave behind them a trail of colour due to large amount of caramel they contain.



A few drops of milk are dropped on a vertical surface. The drop of pure milk either stops or flows slowly leaving a white trail behind it. Whereas milk adulterated with water will flow immediately without leaving a mark.



To 3 mL of milk add 1 drop of iodine solution. The deep blue colouration indicates the presence of starch in the milk.


Chalk powder

Stir a spoon of simple salt in a glass of water. The presence of chalk will make the solution white and other insoluble impurities will settle down.


Chalk powder

Dissolve a spoonful of sugar in a glass of water, chalk will settle down at the bottom.



Take about one teaspoonful of melted ghee with equal quantity of conc. HCl in a test tube and add to it a pinch of cane sugar. Shake well for one minute and test it after 5 minutes. Appearance of crimson colour in lower layer shows the presence of vanaspathi.

Effects of Food Adulterants


The adulterants used for different food items cause various health disorders. For example, metanil yellow used to brighten the colour of pulses, turmeric powder and sweets is a coal tar dye, which may cause cancer.

The growth of food technology particularly in processing and packaging of foods has given rise to a vast scope for food adulteration. The consumer is offered cheaper substitutes but unknowingly he will be paying high price and he has to face health problems also.

Adulteration and Law

The government of India has promulgated an act called the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act in the year 1954. The minimum standards of quality for food and stringent hygienic conditions for its sale are clearly outlined in the Act. The Act has been periodically amended to check dishonest practices of traders. If the traders violate the standards mentioned in the Act, they are punishable under law.

ISI (Indian Standards Institution), Directorate of Marketing and Inspection (AGMARK), Food Processing Organisation and the local health departments in the corporation test the food products for their quality periodically and issue certificates. All the packets containing food products must carry ISI, AGMARK or FPO stamp.

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