The phrase FAT TOM will help you remember the six factors that influence how quickly pathogens grow:
Food: Pathogens grow more quickly in protein-rich foods such as poultry, eggs and milk.
Acidity: Most pathogens grow in foods that are low in acid or those that have a neutral pH.
Temperature: Bacteria grows fastest in 4 C to 60 C. This range is known as the danger zone.
Time: Because bacteria can double in 10 to 20 minutes, pathogens can reach dangerous levels in a short amount of time. This is why it’s important that food handlers minimize time food is in the danger zone.
Oxygen: Aerobic bacteria grow with oxygen, while anaerobic bacteria grow without oxygen.
Moisture: Bacteria are living organisms that need water to grow. Pathogens grow faster in foods that are moist or wet. But don’t let dry foods fool you. Bacteria can survive in dry foods, but they will become active and multiply once moisture is added.