Can sugars like fructose-glucose or high-fructose corn syrup that are found in many types of processed food contribute to shortening a products shelf life? Don't bacteria love things like sugar so if a product has a lot of fructose-glucose added to it, it will need even more preservative chemicals to compensate for any increase of sugar?

  • $\begingroup$ Does the phosphoric acid in POP drinks get rid of bacteria? If so the POP manufacturers wouldn't need preservatives. $\endgroup$ – user128932 Oct 4 '14 at 5:55

Two factors may be at play. (1) While bacteria and molds do indeed grow on sugar, a very high concentration of sugar inhibits growth. So fruit preserves, syrup, honey, molasses etc. do not need to be refrigerated and generally do not require other preservatives to be added. Soft drinks contain less sugar and are more susceptible to spoilage, hence the use of preservatives. I would definitely refrigerate a soft drink after opening it, if not consumed immediately. Acidity also helps inhibit growth (e.g. sweet pickles).

(2) Another factor is that bacteria and molds require water for growth, so foods such as dried fruits, that contain a moderate level of sugar but only a small amount of water, may have a long shelf life.

  • $\begingroup$ If the concentration of sugar is high this inhibits bacterial growth. Does this mean Coka Cola and Pepsi and lots of other Pop drinks have a long shelf life? If so why do they need Preservatives? $\endgroup$ – user128932 Sep 30 '14 at 5:32
  • $\begingroup$ No, those drinks don't have a high sugar content by microbial standards, even thought they it's high by human dietary standards. In fact, the main microbial effect in those cola's is their acidity (pH=4 IIRC, phosphoric acid) $\endgroup$ – MSalters Oct 1 '14 at 11:17
  • $\begingroup$ Does the phosphoric acid content destroy bacteria? If so why do they need preservatives? $\endgroup$ – user128932 Oct 2 '14 at 4:01
  • $\begingroup$ Does sugar act like a preservative? $\endgroup$ – user128932 Nov 2 '14 at 4:02
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, when it is present at a high concentration (e.g. syrup, honey, fruit preserves, etc.) $\endgroup$ – iad22agp Nov 3 '14 at 16:17

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