Moisture Content

 All microorganisms require water but the amount necessary for growth varies between species. The amount of water that is available in food is expressed in terms of water activity (aw), where the aw of pure water is 1.0. Each microorganism has a maximum, optimum, and minimum aw for growth and survival. Generally bacteria dominate in foods with high aw (minimum approximately 0.90 aw) while yeasts and moulds, which require less moisture, dominate in low aw foods ( minimum 0.70 aw). The water activity of fluid milk is approximately 0.98 aw.