What is binary fission in Food Safety?

What is binary fission in Food Safety?

Bacteria occur in our food, sometimes as a wanted component and most times unwanted. Binary fission is a form of asexual reproduction in bacteria. The bacteria’s nucleus divides into two daughter nuclei and continues subsequent divisions of the cell bodies to form two whole cells. It goes on and on as long as the environment is enabling.

Bacteria can prove detrimental to food safety most times but also proves beneficial at other times. This is because there are both harmful and good bacteria. Binary fission comes in handy when the desired outcome is to have a certain strain of bacteria multiply. Say, for example in the production of probiotics, cheese, yoghurt and some fizzy drinks.

Binary fission facilitates food spoilage through spoilage bacteria. A great example of spoilage bacteria is the green mould found on bread. Binary fission in bacteria also amplifies food poisoning. Bacteria that are able to transmit illnesses such as foodborne diseases or food poisoning are known as pathogenic bacteria. They cannot be seen unaided by a microscope or magnifying lens.

Food is a particularly great substrate for binary fission to occur because of the readily available nutrients. Food safety consultants express that most bacteria have a preference for highly proteinous food. Moisture must be present too for binary fission to occur. This explains why some foods are processed as dry like dried fruits, pasta, biscuits and rice. This increases their longevity on the shelf. As soon as water is added, binary fission begins and consequently spoilage and HACCP intrusion.

Warmth is another binary fission catalyst. Bacteria multiply at between 5 and 64 degrees Celsius. Room temperature is well within this range. Hence why refrigeration is key in ensuring food safety. Binary fission takes 10 to 20 minutes to occur so food that is going back to storage should not be exposed too long as per online food safety training.

The key to food safety is ensuring that time taken from the onset of food preparation to consumption is kept at a bare minimum. Removal of any of the binary fission requirements will also abet the goal of keeping food safer, for longer.