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An empirical and generalized model is presented, based on a modified Arrhenius equation, for predicting the combined effect of temperature and water activity on the growth rate of bacteria. When it was applied to seven separate sets of wide ranging published results, spanning some 50 years and including a spore-former and a silage micro-organism, predictions explained between 92.9 and 99.0% of the variation in the results with an overall mean of 96.6%. Advantages over existing models are that it is relatively easy to fit to data using least squares regression and requires only five coefficients. These, together with its simplicity and demonstrated wide application, will facilitate its practical use.