Hong Kong – Food Safety Focus – Bacteria in Raw Meat vs Cooked Meat


Recently, bacterial contamination of meat has attracted public attention. According to the World Health Organization, contamination of food by microbiological agents is a worldwide public health concern; and most countries have documented significant increases over the past few decades in the incidence of diseases caused by microorganisms in food. In this article, we will introduce some factors that determine the growth of bacteria in food, and discuss the different food safety considerations for bacteria in raw meat and cooked meat and the measures to reduce risks of food poisoning caused by bacteria.

Factors Determining the Growth of Bacteria in Food

Bacteria grow best when intrinsic and extrinsic properties are optimal for their growth. Intrinsic properties are the properties that are inherent parts of the food, such as pH and water activity, while extrinsic properties are the properties of the environment in which the food is stored, such as temperature. Water activity is not the same as the moisture content of the food but is a measure, ranging from 0 to 1, of the availability of water in food which determines the growth and survival of bacteria. By controlling these factors (e.g. controlling the storage temperature of the food), bacterial overgrowth can be prevented.

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