What Does FAT TOM Stand For?

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By: Rachae's Nosheri


FAT TOM stands for Foodborne Pathogens Associated to Temperature, Oxygen and Moisture and defines six conditions which foster the growth of bacteria and other foodborne pathogens, such as food type, acidity, temperature, time, oxygen and moisture.

Understanding these six elements can assist foodservice workers in avoiding contaminated products and keeping customers safe. Make these pillars part of your cooking and storage practices to guarantee food safety.


Your restaurant food must remain both delicious and safe to consume; otherwise it risks turning people sick. Therefore it’s vitally important that when handling and storing food it adheres to FAT TOM’s principles of food safety.

Bacteria feed on nutrients, particularly proteins. Therefore it’s vital that food preparation and serving should always use clean utensils and under safe conditions in which bacteria thrive (food acidity temperature time oxygen moisture etc). For pathogens to spread they require six conditions; food acidity temperature time oxygen moisture (FATOM).

Food must be kept at low temperatures to remain fresh. Bacteria thrive in temperatures ranging between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit and multiply rapidly, doubling every 20 minutes in this dangerous zone. Any items remaining within this danger zone for more than four hours should be disposed of promptly.

Bacteria require oxygen, but some forms of harmful bacteria prefer an oxygen-free environment for survival. Canned and vacuum sealed foods remove this oxygen source, making them less attractive to bacteria. Moisture also plays a factor in food spoilage: food with higher water activity levels such as raw meat is more likely to foster mold growth than food with lower water activity such as cooked rice.


Acidity is a serious medical condition caused when your stomach produces too much acid and allows it to leak back into your esophagus, often caused by overeating, drinking too much alcohol, taking anticholinergics or NSAIDs medications, overeating, drinking excess alcohol or certain medications like anticholinergics or NSAIDs. Common symptoms of acidity include heartburn, sour taste in mouth and constipation – leading to stomach ulcers as a result. To alleviate it take antiacids while making lifestyle changes to improve matters further – but eventually acidity will resurface so don’t over do yourself and overeat as this condition comes resurfacing in another form altogether!

Bacteria thrive in environments with a low pH level, increasing their likelihood of spoilage. Furthermore, bacteria multiply quickly between 40 degrees Fahrenheit and 140 degrees Fahrenheit and it’s crucial that food be stored safely and appropriately to protect itself from spoilage.

Moisture can have an enormous effect on food safety. Moist environments provide ideal conditions for bacteria growth, and moist foods have more chances to flourish than dry ones. That is why it is vitally important to store foods properly and in dry environments – particularly raw meat or seafood with lots of moisture content like raw steak – since bacteria are less likely to thrive there and thus increase contamination risk. Foods dehydrated before consumption (uncooked rice or dried beans for instance) tend to last much longer due to having had their moisture eliminated while fresh, moist foods contain pathogens hidden within.


Temperature is one of the key elements of FAT TOM; foodborne pathogens thrive best in foods stored or held at optimal temperatures, and high-risk perishables should never remain outside the temperature danger zone for longer than two hours or be discarded. Food handlers should use an accurate thermometer with an accompanying calibration log template to ensure they are cooking all food at an appropriate temperature.

Time is the second aspect of FAT TOM; when food is left out of its temperature danger zone for too long, bacteria can thrive to dangerous levels and make people sick. To protect against fat tom, all foods should be refrigerated or cooked to an internal temperature of at least 155degF; vacuum sealing or canning are other effective means of storage that remove oxygen and can also prevent fat tom; however not all pathogens will be killed by these methods alone; Moisture plays an essential part here, too; by controlling moisture/water activity levels in food sources as it helps limit bacteria growth growth as much as possible reducing water activity can help protect against fat TOM and keep other diseases at bay; for this to work the third T in FAT TOM stands for Moisture which reduces harmful bacteria growth within food products by controlling moisture/water activity within foods while simultaneously increasing food’s moisture/water activity levels can significantly reducing moisture/water activity within them (such as cheese/cheese/etc) may help eliminate fat TOM diseases as reducing its effects can help protect consumers while remaining cautious when eating out in terms of its food products can help with less moisture than expected as this helps control it reduce fat tom caused by using proper refrigeration and cooking meat should also be cooked at minimum internal temperatures of 155degF before canning or canning techniques that work; this last T in FAT TOM is also factor is Moisture content by controlling how well its water activity. Incorps; both being reduced using moisture content). In terms of moisture activity to control. The third T in FAT TOM by the growth.


No matter if you are a foodservice professional or simply cook at home, knowing how to prevent spoilage is vitally important. Spoiled food not only tastes bad but can also make people sick – not good news for either your business or guests. There are some simple strategies you can employ in order to keep food safe and sanitary, with FAT TOM being one such useful acronym which serves to remember six conditions required for pathogen growth: Food Acidity Time Temperature Oxygen Moisture being some key ones – using FAT TOM can help avoid costly and dangerous bacterial contamination of both both environments!


Food safety should be at the top of any foodservice professional’s agenda. Harmful bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses can put customers in hospital beds and harm businesses alike, so knowing which conditions allow pathogenic bacteria to flourish – known as FAT TOM: Food, Acidity, Temperature, Time, Oxygen and Moisture. – is vital.

Oxygen (O) is an element with chemical symbol O and atomic number 8. It is an extremely reactive gas, readily combining with hydrogen (H) and nitrogen (N). Oxygen often appears as dioxygen molecules (O2) where two oxygen atoms bond covalently via double bonds; oxygen accounts for 21% by mass of Earth’s atmosphere.

Oxygen is essential to human life and many aerobic organisms such as plants, animals and microorganisms alike; anaerobic microorganisms can also thrive in an oxygen-rich environment. Water makes up most of Earth’s oceans and sand by mass and contains approximately 21% oxygen; it also forms the main ingredient for many beverages and foods that are hydrated, including fruit juices and soups. Most foods contain some form of water in order to increase shelf life or storage stability; dehydration can help prolong shelf life and storage stability; bacteria thrive in environments with high water activity levels so reducing moisture can effectively prevent spoilage.


Moisture refers to the amount of water present in food products. Moisture can be found anywhere from soup and salad dressing to baked goods; however, when it comes to food safety it should be viewed negatively; moisture facilitates growth of harmful bacteria and pathogens that could make us sick.

Bacteria require moisture for their survival and thrive best in humid environments. Furthermore, they prefer acidic conditions ranging from 4-7 on the pH scale; oxygen is also vital to their lifecycle so it is vital that foods are stored at an ideal temperature and don’t sit around too long before being refrigerated or left out at room temperature.

FAT TOM principles provide restaurant workers and home chefs alike with a simple framework for remembering six conditions that encourage bacteria — which is a biological risk that causes food poisoning — to flourish. Although we cannot control all of the factors, by following these tips and properly storing foods we can lower the risk of foodborne illness.

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Rachae's Nosheri

Rachael’s Nosheri is a Jewish deli located in 120 S. 19th St, Philadelphia, PA 19103. We serve breakfast and lunch comfort foods and deli sandwiches. Our extensive menu and reasonable prices make us a popular destination for locals and visitors alike. Our food is pretty good if you’re in the mood for deli sandwiches, and we’re known for our American, Bagels, Breakfast, Lunch Specials, and Sandwiches.

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