|MadSci Network: Microbiology|
> How does salt affect mold growth on bread?
Good question, Becky and Beata!
In general all microbes that grow in foods have some sort of a salt concentration optimum. Above and below that salt concentration the organisms grow more slowly. Each microbe has a different salt optimum, but in general the optima for molds tend to be higher than for other spoilage organisms like bacteria.
In general, the higher the salt, the slower the mold will grow... but in terms of practicality, it would be difficult to reduce mold spoilage by increasing salt content because the bread would need to be quite salty to inhibit mold growth, and most people don't like really salty bread!
If you are interested in learning more about how salt influences the growth of food poisoning microorganisms (but no molds!) check out the USDA Eastern Regional Research Center web page at http://ars.usda.gov/Services/docs.htm?docid=6786 and follow the links to the pathogen modeling program.
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