The production of acetate by aerobically growing E. coli is examined. The problem is formulated in terms of a flow network that has as its objective maximal ATP synthesis. It is found that when loads are imposed and flux constraints exist either at the level of NADH turnover rate or the activity of a key Krebs cycle enzyme, switching to acetate overflow is predicted. Moreover, the result found for the latter constraint can be shown to be formally equivalent to a correlation experimentally determined for the specific rate of acetate production by E. coli K-12.