Food Waste

The Science Behind What Causes Food to Spoil (and how to help prevent it)

Restaurants and commercial foodservice operations face a variety of challenges today, and one of the biggest challenges is overhead expenses. One potential way to deal with rising food costs is to get more out of the food in stock. That means ensuring that it lasts as long as possible. For restaurants to develop a plan to reduce food spoilage, it is important to take a closer look at the science behind what causes food to spoil. Then, with an adequate understanding of this issue, plans can be put in place to prevent food from spoiling.

Effect Of Ethylene

In the United States, approximately 40 million tons of food are wasted annually, which amounts to about $160 billion in lost food. This represents approximately one-third of the nation’s food supply, significantly more than any other country in the world. One reason why food spoils is due to ethylene gas. Ethylene is a substance that occurs naturally in plants, and it has an impact on the growth, development, and shelf life of fruits and vegetables. If fruits and vegetables are harvested and exposed to certain levels of ethylene, the food may spoil.


There are different ways that plants and produce might be exposed to this gas. For example, some plants are exposed to it while they are in storage, while other plants might be exposed to it in transit. Ethylene can also be found in the atmosphere, and it might be intentionally used to ripen food more quickly. Unfortunately, exposure to high levels of ethylene could also cause fruits and vegetables to spoil more quickly. 

Tips To Prolong Shelf Life

Even though many restaurants have a hard time with fruits and vegetables spoiling quickly, there are ways to prolong the shelf life of different types of food. For example, restaurants should start by rotating food and labeling it accordingly. That way, the food that is put into the storage area first is also the food that is consumed first. Sometimes, the food that is easiest to reach in the storage was also put in most recently. Make sure the older food is used first.

Dated stickers should also be applied to food that spoils quickly. A few examples include raspberries, blackberries, pears, mangoes, and avocados. That way, everyone can see how long the food has been in there and restaurants and make sure it is consumed before it goes bad.

When storing fruits and vegetables that have already been cut, be sure to use food trays and pads that can collect excess liquid and juice. If liquids are allowed to sit around fruits and vegetables, bacteria will grow quickly, causing food to spoil. It is incumbent on restaurant owners and commercial kitchen managers to make sure they store food properly and reduce their rates of spoilage. 

Keep Your Inventory Fresh

There are a number of factors that can contribute to premature food spoilage. Some of them are due to human error, while other problems might be out of the control of the staff.

Fortunately, there are ways to keep food inventory safe, including using a Thermo-Kool walk-in monitoring system. This innovative monitoring system provides users with access to information about storage conditions. For example, the monitoring system can notify staff members about temperature irregularities, power failures, and doors that have been left open. Making food monitoring effortless and helping restaurant owners and managers control food waste and energy usage more efficiently.

Do you have the right equipment to help control spoilage in your foodservice business? Click below to see how much you can save by adding a Bluezone unit to your walk-in. 

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