Is It Safe to Eat Food in Bloated Packaging?

January 24, 2023

Most bloated food packaging is produced by bacteria found in perishable foods that create gas, such as carbon dioxide. Some of these microbes ruin food, while others can cause food poisoning. Limited cooling is the cause of bloating packages since it allows bacteria to grow in food. These bacteria grow and create gas.

Many of our groceries already have some air in them. Depending on the food, different types of food packaging consume a variable quantity of air. To limit microbe growth, perishable items such as cheese and sausage are sometimes packaged with little or no air. To preserve the texture and prevent damage, some foods are wrapped in a pouch with extra air. But it’s noticeable if an item has swollen above its expected size.

Bloating of meat or poultry packages can occur for a variety of causes, but not all of them are hazardous. For example, some foods and poultry are packaged in modified atmosphere packaging. This packing method introduces a combination of gases into the package during processing and this can cause bloating or swelling in products such as meat, fish, salad mixes, or cheese. The goal of these permitted inert gases is to enhance the shelf life of the product.

Bloating can occur with any food. Dried and low-moisture foods, such as raisins or peanut butter, are less prone to succumb to this fate. This is because the moisture level of these foods is far below what microbes require to grow.

Why does food package bloat?

Bloated food packaging does not always imply that the food within is unsafe to consume. A food package may swell if you reside in a high-altitude area since the air pressure inside the package is greater than the outside air pressure. In that instance, the food is still edible.

Some inflated or bloated packaging can be harmful. Swelling can occur in packing as a result of gases generated as a result of deterioration. One of the causes of swelling is hydrogen swelling, and it only occurs in cans of acidic foods such as tomatoes or citrus fruit. The acids in the food begin to attack and dissolve the metal lining of the can. A sealed bag prevents gas from escaping, so it builds up inside, raising pressure and bloating the packet.

If the packing equipment becomes infected with germs during the manufacturing process, a huge number of pouches get affected. Packaging is punctured during handling and transit. Food is exposed to air and moisture as well as microorganisms when it is punctured. Some shops reseal the pouches as soon as they notice a hole. However, resealing does not help because the bacteria get into packaging with a little hole in it because the gas does not escape from the pouches.

Bacteria can enter food packaging in a variety of ways:

  • During the manufacturing process if the packing machine becomes contaminated with germs, a huge number of pouches may get affected.
  • Due to hard handling or shipping, the packaging may become punctured. In addition to exposing the food to bacteria, the puncture exposes it to moisture and air.

What can consumers do?

If your package appears swollen and has an evident odour, it’s usually better to discard it or return it to the place of purchase if it’s still within the best-by date. So, if your package appears bloated, check the best-by or use-by date first, as well as any obvious scents and any openings or rips in the packaging. If it’s past its expiration date, has a strange odour, or the packaging is open, don’t buy it or throw it away right away if you’ve already bought it.

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