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Why do probiotics need to be refrigerated, yet so does food to prevent bacteria growth?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created February 04, 2013 at 5:53 AM

Why do these good bacteria need to be refrigerated, when refrigeration stunts growth of bacteria numbers and freezing nearly stops it. Yet bad bacteria proliferates at room temperature? (The dangerzone of food)

Does bad bacteria start combating the good bacteria? Since they have no food source just themselves, they start to die off unless "put to a dormant state" by refrigeration?

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on February 04, 2013
at 12:56 PM

not sure the downvote, dan is right...

A5127d60bca783084f191f38ffa357a6

(687)

on February 04, 2013
at 06:43 AM

Dude, read the question again. Thats exactly what I said... "when refrigeration stunts growth of bacteria numbers and freezing nearly stops it."

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4 Answers

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A5127d60bca783084f191f38ffa357a6

on April 08, 2013
at 04:41 AM

Found the answer, what happens is when the good bactera "awake" they look for food and die. But this helps keep them in their dormant state where they don't need food. Kind of like a hibernation type thing.

1
3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on February 04, 2013
at 01:12 PM

Bacteria is not an organism that typically lives outside of a host. So for it to live and grow, it needs a host organism. Probiotics (in pill or liquid form) lack a host. Many of the probiotic bacteria are extremely sensitive to heat, light, and moisture. In nature these type of bacteria primarily live in very nutrient rich soil. Packaging of probiotics almost always comes in a dark or opaque bottle, so the light is taken care of. However, if left out on the counter or in humid environments, the bacteria would rapidly die off and you'd be left with an expensive, in-effective jar of pills.

The primary goal for probiotic manufactures is to slow the bacteria's death without killing it. The primary way of doing this is to store it in a cool, dark, dry space -- but not too cold, exposure to low temperatures (typically less than 30 degrees F) can kill the bacteria all together (which is why we don't store in a freezer), although some probiotic bacteria can withstand cryodesiccation (hence it does not need to be stored in the freezer). So the preferred method is to place them in the fridge, check your bottle, even in the best conditions they are still dying off at some substantial rate, so don't let them sit too long.

This is not different than with "bad bacteria". If a piece of meat is left out on the counter, it will become an attractive host for bacteria and the bacteria will flourish. The bacteria will die off, but not before it has a chance to "reproduce" (see Conway's Game of Life). If stored in the fridge, the bacterial growth is slowed (as would their death) but not stopped, which is why stuff spoils in the fridge. If stored in the freezer (FDA recommends for 7 days or longer) the bacteria would be killed off completely.

1
Eed7dabde3d61910685845e04605267f

on February 04, 2013
at 10:49 AM

Might it be to do with preventing the strains from dying? Like you suggest, it sounds to be like this could be analogous to kefir grains being left out of their solution and then dying at room temperature (or being 'over-fermented' in their solution, which can damage them... So not so much a matter of bad bacteria combatting the good but the bacteria in general being prone to dying when at room temperature, with refrigeration being a way to slow the rate at which they degenerate...

(Also maybe somewhere along the line someone suggested putting 'refigerate' on the bottle etc to indicate to consumers that the product was perishable (!), a sly marketing tactic in the context of relevant research showing that supplementing may not have much of impact at all...

1
194d8e8140425057fe06202e1e5822a7

(3979)

on February 04, 2013
at 06:38 AM

Refrigeration just slows down the process of death/decay. If you'll notice, stuff still goes bad in the fridge, it just takes a lot longer than if they were at room temperature.

A5127d60bca783084f191f38ffa357a6

(687)

on February 04, 2013
at 06:43 AM

Dude, read the question again. Thats exactly what I said... "when refrigeration stunts growth of bacteria numbers and freezing nearly stops it."

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on February 04, 2013
at 12:56 PM

not sure the downvote, dan is right...

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