Monthly Archives: October 2015

Dangers of Packaged Foods

Foods are packed using special packaging techniques to store and maintain the foodstuffs in good condition when they are stored. Packaging of food refers to the processing of food for preserving it from contamination from germs and dust. Another important aim of packaging food is to decrease the food wastage. In developed countries, where packaged foods are used quite often, the amount of food wasted is around 3%. Whereas in the developing countries, the rate of food wastage is around 30%.

Processed foods easily available in the market. These products contain artificial sugar, additives, chemicals, and preservatives. Nowadays, when one visits a grocery shop, he spends on an average more than half the budget on buying packaged foods. The human body needs vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that are responsible for good physical and mental health. Processed foods do not contain these essential nutrients and contain unhealthy preservatives.

Dangers of Food Additives and Preservatives

Food preservatives or additives are the ingredients in packaged foods that are used to preserve the food for a long time and thus, increasing their shelf-life. These additives include artificial sugar, sodium nitrate, trans-fats, BHA and BHT, synthetic food colors, and monosodium glutamate (MSG). The foods labeled as no sugar added, actually contain artificial sugar, which are empty calories. These have a low nutrition to calorie ratio and leads to increase in weight. Usually, soft drinks contain these artificial sugar additives, which are a major reason for the growing rate of obesity in people.

Sodium nitrate is added to packaged meat and is said to carcinogenic. The sodium nitrate gets converted to nitrosamines (which are carcinogenic) when meat is cooked at high temperatures. Trans-fats are mostly found in the snacks, biscuits, cakes, and crisps. They are saturated fats, which increase the rate of getting a heart attack.

BTA and BHA are two antioxidants that are added to avoid unwanted fermentation of food. Research is still going on to prove that BTA and BHA are carcinogenic, so it is advisable to avoid food with these additives. Monosodium glutamate is a food enhancer, which is used to improve the taste of the food. Frozen foods are preserved using monosodium glutamate.

Artificial coloring added in cereals, candy, and ice-cream, are carcinogenic and do not have any nutritional value. From allergies to autism, colored foods can be a cause of many diseases.

The dangers of packaged foods can be listed as follows:

Body ache
Allergies and rashes
Fatigue
Swollen lymph nodes
Diarrhea
Constipation

Next time when you buy packaged foods, make it a point to check the ingredients and additives of the packaged food.

Long Term Food Storage and Safety Guideline

Storing your food not only avoids unnecessary errands to the grocery store, but also keeps you to be equipped with food supply in the time of crisis. But, there are certain factors you should consider while storing food for the long term. Safety is the foremost factor to be considered. The entire purpose of food storage gets defeated, if the stored food turns inedible.

What to Store?

Store only those food which you are most likely to consume. There is no point in storing something you dislike. Wheat, rice, cooking oil, sugar, dry milk, honey etc. are the common ingredients of most recipes. Hence, make sure you always have ample stock of these items.

Follow a rotation method to replenish the stock. Dried fruits packed in metal cans can be stored for long term. If you wish to store packaged or canned foodstuffs, then, be careful while buying them. Ensure there are no dents or other damages. Check the manufacturing date. Soups can be safely stored at a room temperature for 5 years, but acidic foodstuff like tomato soup can last only for 18 months.

Safety Guidelines

To increase the shelf life of food, you should adhere to the food-specific storage practices.

Wheat, rice, grains, seeds, beans, legumes should be stored in large poly containers. You can get 10 gallon poly buckets at a paint shop.
Avoid storing anything in used containers, as they contain molecules of previous food, which may spoil the fresh stock.
Always opt for opaque materials over transparent ones, as light can deteriorate the contents inside.
Place a piece of dry ice or add a few dried bay leaves to protect your grains from insects.
Store the poly buckets in the dry areas of your basement or kitchen closets.
Ensure the lid is airtight.
Foodstuff like meat or dairy products should always be refrigerated.
Frozen food should be chilled at appropriate temperature only.
Never allow thawing and re-freezing of food, as it can accelerate the growth of bacteria.
Cooked food like bread and fruits are stored for a short term only.
Do not consume or store foods that have exceeded their expiry date

Emergency Storage of Food

Emergencies strike without warning. Hence, one must always be prepared for such situations. Always keep an emergency kit of essential foodstuffs ready. This should include dry milk, bread, sugar, butter and other items. Have this kit refilled periodically, so that the contents do not spoil. People living in disaster prone areas should particularly have an emergency kit at hand.

Always store your food in a cool and dry place, irrespective of the food type. If you are likely to face a power cut for long, then consume perishable foods in the refrigerator before going for the ones in the freezer.