Small Bites

Bacteria and pH The pH scale measures the acidity of a substance. The pH scale runs from 0 to 14. From 0 to 7 is acidic, from 7 to 14 is alkaline, and 7 is neutral. Neutral environments are the best for growing bacteria. The more acidic a food is, the less likely it is that bacteria will grow.

Storage by Food Type

Different foods are stored in different places. All foods should be stored properly. This will prevent contamination, spoilage, and the growth of harmful bacteria.


Fish and shellfish are very sensitive to temperature changes. If the proper temperature for seafood is not maintained, microorganisms will grow rapidly.

Fresh, whole fish should be packed in ice at a temperature of 41°F (5°C) or lower. The fish should have bright, shiny skin. The texture should be firm and the flesh should spring back when touched.

The FDA closely oversees the shipping of shellfish. Shellfish must be purchased from an FDA-approved supplier. Shucked shellfish in packages of less than one-half gallon will have a sell-by date clearly shown on the label. Shucked shellfish have been removed from the shell. Packages with more than one-half gallon of shellfish will show the date the shellfish were shucked.

If you receive a container of live clams, oysters, or mussels, you must write the date they were delivered on the tag that is fastened to the container. These identification tags must remain attached until the last one is used, then kept for 90 days after the harvest date. This information is used to determine the source of possible contamination if a foodborne illness breaks out.

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