Food Microbiology Basics

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Microorganisms are everywhere. Some of them are good and useful in food production (e.g. cheese, yogurt, bread, etc.). Others are bad and can make us sick (e.g. Salmonella, E. coli, etc.). This course will explore the different microorganisms and their characteristics.

If you are wondering what microorganisms are, why some are good and some bad – then you’re at the right place!  This FREE course will answer all the questions above and more!

Why is it important to have a basic knowledge of food microbiology?

  1. It is essential for making food safe to eat. If you know how microorganisms spoil food and how they make you sick, you can prevent them from doing so!
  2. Microorganisms are used in the production of many foods (cheese, yogurt, bread, beer, wine, and many more). By understanding how they work, you too can use them in making these foods!

The basics of food microbiology

This course discusses the fundamentals of food microbiology. You’ll learn what microorganisms are in food – the good and the bad. For a more complete overview, scroll down and read through the different sections before deciding whether this course is for you.

mould on coriander chutney
Those two ‘eyes’ on this coriander chutney aren’t what they seem. These are one of the microorganism types we’ll be discussing in this course: molds

This course is for you if:

  • You’d like to become more familiar with the basic terminology used within the field of food microbiology.
  • You want to know more about the most common microorganisms associated with food.
  • You’re curious to learn how microorganisms can be beneficial for your food.
  • You just want to learn more about food safety and food microbiology in general!

This course is probably not for you if:

  • You’re looking for the health benefits of microorganisms. We do not focus on nutrition.
  • You want to get an overview of food safety legislation relating to microorganisms. We might mention some legislation here and there, but we won’t cover it extensively.
  • You want to know the exact steps you need to take as a manufacturer to ensure your food is safe. This requires more in-depth analysis specific to your situation.

Disclaimer: this course offers no legal advice and is for educational purposes only. If you need food safety advice please consult with your local food safety expert. We take no responsibility for the consequences of actions taken based on learnings from this course.

Related course

Interested in more basics? We’ve got a separate course

Want to learn more basic food science? We’ve got a FREE course on food chemistry for you!

Moulds on aquafaba, chickpea cooking liquid

If you'd like to learn more about microbiology, there are various useful resources to go through. Some of these we've used extensively for putting together this course. If you are looking for more specific disease details of pathogenic micro organisms several of these resources may help you out.

When it comes to food disease and prevention there's a well known book, made by the FDA outlining all the most important food pathogens. It's appropriately called the 'bag bug book' and can be downloaded online.

For those speaking German, we'd recommend 'Lebensmittelmikrobiologie', a nice concise book discussing a wide variety of topics. Also a source I've used for this course, but with a lot more detail.

The resource we used (amongst others) to summarize the properties of most (pathogenic) micro organisms. The page on pathogenic micro organisms of UNL Food. is a great resource to find more information on bacteria in food.

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