Perishable Foods and Food Spoilage

Food spoilage occurs when there’s a disagreeable change in the normal state of the food.
July 29, 2017

Perishable foods are foods which are likely to spoil, decay or become unsafe to eat if they’re not stored correctly or consumed shortly after purchase. These foods include:

  • meat
  • seafood
  • poultry
  • dairy products such as milk and cheese
  • fruits and vegetables

Food spoilage

Food spoilage occurs when there’s a disagreeable change in the normal state of the food. This may be a change to the smell, taste, touch or sight of the food.

Spoilage is usually caused by bacteria, moulds or yeasts. A typical example of spoilage is green fuzzy patches appearing on a piece of bread.

Spoilage doesn’t always mean that the food is unsafe to eat, although you shouldn’t serve spoiled food to customers. If food spoilage is caused by harmful bacteria that causes it to be unsafe to eat, this is known as pathogenic spoilage.

Signs of food spoilage

Some signs of meat, seafood and poultry spoilage include slime, discolouring and a bad smell.

The most common signs of spoilage on dairy products include green or black mold, a strong smell or curdling.

Signs of spoilage on fruits and vegetables are mould, a soft and mushy consistency and a bad smell.

Low-risk foods can also spoil. For example, baked goods may develop a white or green mould.

Other signs of spoilage of canned goods include a bulging can or lid, a strong smell when you open the can, gas or spurting liquids, or cloudy mushy food.

More ways to monitor food spoilage

Using sensory monitoring is one of several monitoring techniques that you should do to ensure the food you prepare and serve is safe to eat.

Other monitoring techniques include observation (e.g. checking cleaning schedules), chemical (e.g. checking acidity levels or conducting a nutritional analysis) and physical monitoring (e.g. checking temperature or weight).

Monitoring is a critical part of any Food Safety Plan. In most provinces and territories, Food Safety Plans are required by law and should be based on the seven principles of HACCP.

Find out more about Food Safety Plans and the seven principles of HACCP by downloading the CIFS Guide to Understanding HACCP Principles.