Why does refrigeration keep bacteria from multiplying?

By Susan Brewer, Ph.D., University of Illinois,
Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition

Most infection-causing bacteria prefer body temperatures to grow and are slowed down significantly in the refrigerator because the enzyme systems that operate to allow them to grow slow down.  However, some bacteria are perfectly happy at refrigeration temperatures—they grow, but not rapidly.  Only freezing will absolutely stop bacterial growth, as long as the food  remains frozen.
U.S. D.A. Food Safety and Inspection Service. 2006. “Basics for Handling Food Safely. “
Jay, J.M. 2000. Modern Food Microbiology. Gaithersburg, MD: Aspen Publishers.


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