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What bacteria need to grow?

Like all living things, bacteria need food, water and the proper environment to live and grow. The food product itself supplies the food and water needed for bacterial growth. Most seafood products provide an abundance of food and water for growth. The exact environmental requirements can vary from one type of bacteria to another. Most bacteria grow best within certain ranges of temperature, and have specific requirements related to their need for air, the proper amount of water, acid and salt. By controlling nutrients, water, temperature and time, air, acidity, and salt, you can eliminate, control, or reduce the rate at which bacteria grow.


Some types of bacteria have the ability to form spores when they are exposed to conditions that they "do not like". Once bacteria form spores to survive, they will not grow until conditions become favorable again. Spores are very resistant to conditions of high heat, acid, or other chemicals that would kill most bacteria in their normal state. These spores can create food safety hazards under certain conditions. Controlling the spores requires preventing favorable conditions for growth - keeping the temperature low or the acidity or salt content high will keep them as spores that aren't harmful. An example of a type of spore forming bacteria that is extremely hazardous is Clostridium botulinum, the bacteria that causes botulism.


If you would like to learn more about specific requirements for bacterial growth click on any of the seven items in the list. You can come back to this information at a later time if you would like to continue on to the next required parts of this module.

What bacteria need to grow and multiply

1. Food (nutrients)
2. Water (moisture)
3. Proper temperature
4. Time
5. Air, no air, minimal air
6. Proper acidity (pH)
7. Salt levels

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