Food Microbiology

Module summary

Module code: MICR1005
Level: 7
Credits: 15
School: Engineering and Science
Department: Natural Resources Institute
Module Coordinator(s): Richard Fuchs



Consumers are at risk of becoming ill if pathogenic micro-organisms grow within or on foods. Spoilage organisms can cause substantial losses of foods if they grow and cause rots and decays. Consumers are extremely aware of the importance of safe food and demand that suppliers produce food that is safe and wholesome. Failure to control growth of microorganisms in food can result in significant human and economic costs. The aim of the Module is to enable students to use information about the characteristics of foodborne microorganisms to reflect upon their significance and strategies for the control of food safety hazards and general losses due to rots caused by micro-organisms. Losses due to food spoilage and food borne disease can be particularly high in developing countries, because of the climate and lack of adequate processing infrastructure. The Module also aims to introduce students to some of the basic techniques used in the detection and enumeration of microorganisms in food.

The Module aims to:
• Develop an understanding of the characteristics of pathogenic and spoilage microorganisms and their occurrence in fresh and processed foods;
• Investigate factors affecting the growth of microorganisms;
• Develop an understanding of strategies for control of microbial growth in foods, including pro-active systems such as HACCP;
• Introduce basic microbiological techniques used in the laboratory;
• Develop the skills of keeping a laboratory notebook and write an experimental report.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:
1. competently identify the main categories of microorganism that can affect foods;
2. reflect upon their significance and inter-relationship between in food safety and product quality;
3. critically assess information concerning factors affecting microbial growth to develop control strategies for reducing losses and food safety hazards caused by microbial growth within foods;
4. interpret and formulate guidelines and recommendations for safe production of foods;

Indicative content

• General overview of microorganisms including fungi, bacteria, viruses, parasites, as well as bacteria fungal and algal toxins;
• Critical insight into factors affecting the growth of microorganisms;
• Effects of microbial growth on foods;
• Introduction to food bacteriology including food poisoning and foodborne diseases;
• Control of microorganisms causing foodborne diseases;
• Food mycology including brief introduction to mycotoxins;
• Introduction to parasites and viruses;
• Introduction to basic food microbiology techniques.

Teaching and learning activity

• Lectures and discussions on the theoretical component covering the basic subject matter, including study materials and case studies;
• Student practical sessions reinforcing theoretical aspects;
• Practical demonstrations;
• Case studies of relevance taken from practical experiences of staff.


Poster: 50% weighting, 50% pass mark.
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4.
Outline Details: A poster displaying information on a topic selected by the Module leader.

Practical Report: 50% weighting, 50% pass mark.
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4.
Word Length: 2000 words.
Outline Details: Report on one of the practical experiments.

Formative Assessment: Students will complete a quiz to check their level of understanding of the module and will prepare a short practical report.