Space food and bacterial infections: Realities of the risk and role of science

H. W. Kim, M. S. Rhee

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Space food has evolved remarkably from a simple toothpaste-like tube to ready-to-eat Earth-like cuisine. Currently, the major mission of space food development is to provide a safe, nutritious, and acceptable food system that can function for a long-duration spaceflight, such as a human Mars mission in the 2030s. Scope and approach: Ensuring food safety during the spaceflight is considered a large health challenge for crews because there are potential hazards of bacterial contamination and infection through food, which have consequences in the confined system of a spacecraft or space station. Key findings and conclusions: Despite the efforts invested in the microbial quality control of the environment and recycling systems during spaceflight, microorganisms inevitably accompany all space habitats occupied by crew members and can be transmitted everywhere, including food, other locations, and even humans. Opportunistic pathogens have been isolated from air, surfaces, water systems, and crew members; moreover, various studies have documented the stronger stress resistance or virulence of pathogenic bacteria in response to the space environment. The current study is therefore intended to provide a comprehensive review of the current status of space food and the potential hazard of bacterial infections during a manned space mission, which could be used for future research on space food.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-287
Number of pages13
JournalTrends in Food Science and Technology
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Dec


  • Bacterial infection
  • Contamination
  • Food safety
  • Potential hazards
  • Space food

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science


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