What Pathogenic Bacteria Need to Grow

Bacteria will begin to grow and multiply when they are comfortable in their surroundings. It will double every 20 minutes if its surroundings are perfect.

Most bacteria grow where there is oxygen (Aerobic "with oxygen") and some can only grow when there is no oxygen (Anaerobic  "without oxygen").

Bacteria need a combination of things in their surroundings to grow:
  • Temperature - Bacteria grow best in the temperature range between 4ºC and 60ºC. Temperature below 4ºC, and temperature between 60ºC and 74ºC, will not kill bacteria, but it will not allow them to multiply enough times to cause an illness. In order to kill pathogenic bacteria you need temperatures above 74ºC. Temperature is the easiest factor to control in order to prevent bacterial growth.
  • Protein - Pathogenic bacteria and spoilage bacteria grow best in high protein food such as poultry and seafood.
  • Water - Pathogenic bacteria need water in order to survive. Food can be changed in order to reduce the amount of water. Food can also be salted, dried, smoked, have sugar or pectin added. Lower water will not kill bacteria, but it will not allow them to grow.
  • pH (the measure of the level of acid) - Pathogenic bacteria need a neutral environment to survive. The level of acid can range from 0 to 14. Tap water has a pH of 7 (neutral), vinegar has a pH factor of 3 (acidic), bleach has a pH factor of 13 (alkaline). Low or high pH factor will not kill pathogenic bacteria, but it will not allow them to grow. Most disease causing bacteria grow best at pH of 5 to 8.
  • Oxygen - Some pathogenic bacteria can only grow where there is oxygen, while other pathogenic bacteria can only grow where there is no oxygen. You should be aware of those bacteria that grow without oxygen in canned and jared products and those that need oxygen in other food products.
  • Time - Pathogenic bacteria need enough time in order to multiply. The number of bacteria will reach dangerous levels very quickly in a short period of time in perfect conditions. Keep in mind that bacteria can reproduce every 20 minutes in perfect conditions.
By sufficiently eliminating or changing one of the criteria, bacterial growth can be prevented or delayed.

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What Consumers
Need to Know
To avoid the possibility of foodborne illness, fresh eggs must be handled carefully. Even eggs with clean, uncracked shells may occasionally contain bacteria called Salmonella that can cause an intestinal infection.

Consumers play a large role in this prevention strategy. In fact, the most effective way to prevent egg-related illness is by knowing how to buy, store, handle and cook eggs—or foods that contain them—safely.

Safe Handling Instructions: To prevent illness from bacteria: always keep eggs refrigerated, cook eggs until yolks are firm, and cook foods containing eggs thoroughly.

Following these instructions is important for everyone but especially for those most vulnerable to foodborne disease—children, the elderly, and persons with weakened immune systems due to steroid use, conditions such as AIDS, cancer or diabetes, or such treatments as chemotherapy for cancer or immune suppression because of organ transplants.

Eggs that have been treated to destroy Salmonella—by in-shell pasteurization, for example  are not required to carry safe handling instructions.

Buy Right
- Buy eggs only if sold from a refrigerator or refrigerated case
- Open the carton and make sure that the eggs are clean and the shells are not cracked.
- Refrigerate promptly.
- Store eggs in their original carton and use them within 3 weeks for best quality.

Keep Everything Clean 

Before preparing any food, remember that cleanliness is key! Wash hands, utensils, equipment, and work surfaces with hot, soapy water before after they come in contact with eggs and egg-containing foods

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