We owe a lot to the tiny bacteria. Without the lowly bacteria we wouldn’t have any oxygen to breathe.
How did Earth end up with an atmosphere made up of roughly 21 percent of oxygen?
The answer: The tiny bacteria known as blue-green algae. These microbes conduct photosynthesis and use sunshine, water and carbon dioxide to produce oxygen.
History of Bacteria
Oxygen was first produced on earth somewhere around 2.7 billion to 2.8 billon years ago. It took a billion years after that for bacteria to build up oxygen levels high enough in the atmosphere to enable survival of larger life forms.
When there was enough oxygen in the air, there was an evolution of animals that led to man. And while man owed his life to algae bacteria, he was still battling food bacteria for survival. Man still needed to find a way to preserve and protect his food from bacteria.
Ancient Egyptians employed a variety of methods for food preservation. Great silos were constructed to preserve grain for long periods of time. Fish, meat, vegetables and fruits were preserved and protected from the effects of bacteria by drying and salting.
Fish curing, depicted in the tombs of ancient Egypt, was so highly regarded that only temple officials were entrusted with the knowledge of the art, and the Egyptian word for fish preserving is the same as that used to denote the process of embalming the dead.
For thousands of years the survival and power of a tribe or country depended on its stocks in grain. Harvesting, processing, and storing grain stocks was of huge importance, and war was declared only after harvest. One of the earliest records of large-scale food preserving was in ancient Egypt, where it was extremely important to create adequate storage of dried grain to insure against the failure of the Nile to flood seasonally. Huge quantities of grain were stored in sealed silos, where they could be kept dry for several years if necessary. Records from 2600 B.C. show that the annual flooding of the Nile produced surpluses of grain that were stored and kept to feed builders of irrigation channels and pyramid tombs.
Many years went by before there were other breakthroughs in food preservation. Soldiers and seamen, fighting in Napoleon’s army were still living off of salt-preserved meats, just as the Egyptians had thousands of years before them. It was Napoleon who changed the history of food when he offered a reward to the person who could discover a better method of food preservation.
The winner of Napoleon’s prize was a French chemist named Nicolas Appert. He observed that food heated in sealed containers was preserved as long as the container remained unopened or the seal did not leak. His discovery became a major turning point in food preservation history.
Moving ahead several hundred years, the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) created other breakthroughs.The NSF “raised the bar” with new sanitation standards for bacteria control, and promoted two cleaning methods as effective in food processing facilities.
Hose-Down Cleaning: This is the removal of dirt and organic substances, such as fat and protein particles from the surfaces of walls, floors, tools and equipment (including LED light fixtures) with high pressure water hoses (often called Hose-Down cleaning). With water spray, high numbers of bacteria (90% or more) present on the surfaces of the previously listed objects will be removed. However, many types of bacteria stick very firmly to surfaces in tiny, almost invisible layers called biofilms. And these layers will not be entirely removed, even with profound water spraying alone, and will persist and continue multiplying.
Disinfection: The removal of some microorganisms in the food industry requires both Hose-Down cleaning and intermittent antibacterial treatments, commonly in the form of hot water, steam or the application of disinfectants. The disinfectants used are special chemicals, soaps and cleaning additives, which kill bacteria but do not cause corrosion of equipment or lighting fixtures. The schedule and type of hose-down cleaning and disinfection processes used in food industries depend on the surfaces being treated and the type of bacteria or contamination being removed.
(Note: NSF-rated Solas Ray LED fixtures can withstand the Hose-Down processes listed in the NSF Hose-Down parameters on the Solas Ray Lighting website.)
Throughout the history of mankind, some types of bacteria have enabled life, while others have caused terrible death. Bacteria has played the roles of both a helping friend and a horrible enemy. When you take your next deep breath of air, or eat freshly baked bread at Panera (that was made with yeast), or you’ve had a glass of fine wine with dinner, you’ve enjoyed the benefits of types of bacteria that were life-enabling organisms. And when you have to throw out date-expired food from your refrigerator, you see the effects of other types of bacteria that are not life-enhancing organisms.