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blemished food

Each year, thousands of tons of edible fruits and vegetables that do not conform to aesthetic standards are wasted due to aesthetic issues – this phenomenon is known as food waste and represents a serious problem for society.

One of the key issues is consumers’ expectations that produce will look perfect. Supermarkets and distributors use cosmetic standards to determine whether a piece of produce makes its way onto grocery store shelves.

Infections and microbial intrusions

Blemished food can be a source of contamination with bacteria, viruses and protozoa. Contamination typically occurs at the beginning stages of food chain: primary production (farm where plants or animals are raised for food); harvest and slaughter; transportation/storage of produce or animal products respectively; processing; preparation/serving. [2].

Bacteria found on fruits, vegetables, eggs, meat and shellfish can be infectious to humans, leading to diarrhea or stomach pain. Although usually mild in their effects, infections caused by these organisms may be severe in infants, elderly persons and people with compromised immune systems.

Some organisms can multiply and create toxins that make us ill, such as Shigella and Salmonella bacteria, which can then spread from feces through oral transmission and are typically spread by people who fail to wash their hands before touching their face, nose or mouths.

These bacteria may also be found on fruit or vegetable skins if not peeled correctly and thoroughly washed after peeling, as well as in water sources; potentially entering food during handling, processing or storage.

Sewage pollution is another source of infection. Some viruses cannot be cultured in a laboratory and thus must infiltrate through direct contact with food, soil, water and feces contamination – particularly diarrhoea-causing viruses such as Campylobacter which is especially problematic among pregnant women and elderly individuals.

Other viruses that can infiltrate fresh produce are norovirus, hepatitis A and enteric viral diseases – these diseases are transmitted from infected people through food contamination, often unknowingly infecting consumers without symptoms appearing until later.

Most cases of norovirus outbreaks and hepatitis A viral illnesses are related to consumption of fresh produce. Viral outbreaks may originate directly in the field before or after harvest and have been associated with eating raw fruits and vegetables as well as prepackaged fruit/vegetable products or beverages.


Annually, an astounding 1.3 billion tons of edible food is wasted around the globe, with one major cause being “culling.” This refers to selecting and discarding produce based on cosmetic flaws such as odd shapes, unappealing colors and blemishes; such ugly produce may still taste delicious when at its prime; many of these aesthetically challenged options offer superior nutritional benefits over more aesthetically appealing counterparts.


Ugly fruits and vegetables aren’t any less healthy to eat than their more attractive counterparts, and may even contain more nutrients. Some blemished produce has higher levels of phytochemicals which have been linked to better heart health and anticancer protection; these phytochemicals come in various forms including pigments that give these fruits their colors and flavor profiles.

Food supply chains often involve losses at each step, from production to consumption. Spoilage during storage and transport or exposure to insects and rodents or bacteria/mold are among the many losses encountered throughout this journey, while retailers also discard produce which doesn’t meet size, shape or color specifications expected by them – this contributes significantly to our food waste problem: globally we lose an estimated 1.3 billion tons annually of edible produce! Although considered imperfect produce by retailers, it is perfectly safe and delicious; you can cook, bake, stew or blend them into smoothies/juices!

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