Oxidation of phenols is one of the most important aspects of these compounds to the biologist. Oxidation of phenolic compounds can result in the browning of tissues. Well-known examples are the browning of fruits after they have been cut. Oxidation can also result in the formation of metabolites that are toxic to animals and plants, and that can account for spoilage of foods in processing. On the other hand, toxic compounds formed from the oxidation of phenolics can inhibit pathogenic microorganisms. Certain phenols are used as retardants or antioxidants to prevent the oxidation of fatty acids.
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