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Shelf life is the time a natural ingredient or processed food takes to deteriorate and become inedible or spoiled. The biological material of each plant, animal, seed, and processed food loses quality and important nutrients after a certain period of time. This is a natural event, caused by water loss and/or attack by bacteria or other microorganisms. On a molecular level, proteins and other important substances and nutrients also denature when submitted to high temperatures and various other atmospheric conditions. The term shelf life became popular in the food industry in almost every industrial country in the world after World War II ended in 1945. This entry discusses the factors contributing to food spoilage and current measures food producers take to control spoilage and ...

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