The two types of fungi that are important in food spoilage are yeasts and molds. Molds are multicellular fungi that reproduce by the formation of spores (single cells that can grow into a mature fungus). Spores are formed in large numbers and are easily dispersed through the air. Once these spores land on a food substrate, they can grow and reproduce if conditions are favourable. Yeasts are unicellular fungi that are much larger than bacterial cells. They reproduce by cell division (binary fission) or budding.
The conditions affecting the growth of fungi are similar to those affecting bacteria. Both yeasts and molds are able to grow in an acidic environment (pH less than 7). The pH range for yeast growth is 3.5 to 4.5 and for molds is 3.5 to 8.0. The low pH of fruits is generally unfavourable for the growth of bacteria, but yeasts and molds can grow and cause spoilage in fruits. For example, species of the fungal genus Colletotrichum cause crown rot in bananas. Yeasts promote fermentation in fruits by breaking down sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide. The amount of available water in a food product is also critical for the growth of fungi. Yeasts are unable to grow at a water activity of less than 0.9, and molds are unable to grow at a water activity below 0.8.
The most common methods used either to kill or to reduce the growth of microorganisms are the application of heat, the removal of water, the lowering of temperature during storage, the reduction of pH, the control of oxygen and carbon dioxide concentrations, and the removal of the nutrients needed for growth. The use of chemicals as preservatives is strictly regulated by governmental agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States. Although a chemical may have preservative functions, its safety must be proved before it may be used in food products. To suppress yeast and mold growth in foods, a number of chemical preservatives are permitted. In the United States, the list of such chemicals, known as GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe), includes compounds such as benzoic acid, sodium benzoate, propionic acid, sorbic acid, and sodium diacetate.For more class notes, videos, homework help etc download our Mobile App HERE
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