Food microbiology is the study of the microorganisms which inhabit, create or contaminate food. Of major importance is the study of microorganisms causing food spoilage. However "good" bacteria such as probiotics are becoming increasingly important in food science. In addition, microorganisms are essential for the production of foods such as cheese, yoghurt, other fermented foods, bread, beer and wine.
is a major focus of food microbiology. Pathogenic bacteria,
viruses and toxins
produced by microorganisms are all
possible contaminants of food. However, microorganisms and their products can also
be used to combat these pathogenic microbes. Probiotic
bacteria, including those which produce bacteriocins
can kill and inhibit pathogens.
Alternatively, purified bacteriocins
such as nisin can be added directly to food
products. Finally, bacteriophage,
viruses which only infect bacteria,
can be used to kill bacterial pathogens.
Thorough preparation of food, including proper cooking will eliminate most bacteria and
viruses. However, toxins produced by contaminants may not be heat-labile, and
some will not be eliminated by cooking.
Fermentation is one way
microorganisms can change a food. Yeast,
especially S. cerevisiae,
is used to leaven bread, brew beer
and make wine. Certain bacteria,
including lactic acid
bacteria, are used to make yogurt,
cheese, hot sauce,