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By Martin R. Adams, Maurice O. Moss

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The reactions which take place in the cytoplasm do so in an aqueous environment and the cytoplasm is surrounded by a membrane which is generally permeable to water molecules which may pass freely from the cytoplasm to the environment and from the environment to the cytoplasm. 4 SiH4 À112 PH3 À87 H2S À60 HCl À85 H2Se À42 Chapter 3 37 of water molecules is normally in a steady state and a living organism will only be stressed if there is a net flow out of the cytoplasm, leading to plasmolysis, or a net flow into the cell leading to rupture of the membrane, and the latter is normally prevented by the presence of a cell wall in the bacteria and fungi.

However, the surface of the skin is not a favourable place for most micro-organisms since it is usually dry and has a low pH due to the presence of organic acids secreted from some of the pores of the skin. This unfavourable environment ensures that most micro-organisms reaching the skin do not multiply and frequently die quite quickly. Such organisms are only ‘transients’ and would not be regularly isolated from the cleaned skin surface. Nevertheless, the micro-environments of the hair follicles, sebaceous glands and the skin surface have selected a specialized flora exquisitely adapted to each environment.

Increasing the access of air to a food material by chopping, grinding, or mincing will increase its Eh. 6. Similarly, exclusion of air as in vacuum packing or canning will reduce the Eh. Microbial growth in a food reduces its Eh. This is usually ascribed to a combination of oxygen depletion and the production of reducing compounds such as hydrogen by the micro-organisms. Oxygen depletion appears to be the principal mechanism; as the oxygen content of the medium decreases, so the redox potential declines from a value of around 400 mV at air saturation by about 60 mV for each tenfold reduction in the partial pressure of oxygen.

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