Microbiological Hazards

Microbiological hazards include bacteria, viruses, yeast & mould and protozoa.

Which is the odd one out?

Viruses only reproduce when being hosted by a living cell. All of the others are able to reproduce or grow when given the right conditions.

These micro-organisms may be pathogenic (disease causing), cause spoilage or neither of these. We need some types of bacteria present in our bodies and environment to keep us healthy.

Microbiological hazards HACCP


One of the areas that you need to look at when thinking about food safety is the microbiological nature of your product and its ingredients. This is as well as any cross contamination from anywhere else. These can include people, plant (equipment and building) and product.

To reduce the risk of microbiological hazards, a risk assessment as part of the HACCP or Safer Food Better Business study should be conducted.


Pathogenic or Food poisoning bacteria

Many bacteria can cause disease and are transmitted in food. These include:

Salmonella species

E.coli (various serotypes)

Campylobacter species

Clostridium botulinum (causes botulism)

Clostridium perfringens

Bacillus cereus

Staphylococcus aureus

Listeria species

Shigella species

Vibrio species


Viruses include:

Hepatitis A


Hepatitis E

There are also many parasites and toxins from moulds and bacteria. Some of which are heat resistant.

food microbiology

What does this have to do with HACCP?

When considering the hazards or risks to the production of safe food or drink, the microbiological hazards from all areas must be considered. Sources of micro-organisms can include raw materials, the environment that the food is produced in and people producing it. There is no evidence at the time of writing (December 2020) that COVID 19 can be transmitted by food.

Other considerations are the intended consumer of the products and any vulnerabilities that they may have. For example, the elderly, children and those with a reduced immune system such as pregnant women and cancer patients.

It is important to have policies in place to reduce these risks to an acceptable level.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is the specialized agency of the United Nations and they have defined a hazard in HACCP as “A biological, chemical or physical agent in, or condition of, food with the potential to cause an adverse health effect.” 

Moving your business forward

Once your business needs testing plans, then this page will help you develop the type of testing for your business.

When you are ready to discuss your microbiology plans or you need an expert eye to review your current plans, give me a call on 07904 384833. I may be able to save you money when I review your testing plans, or focus your budget on areas of concern. 

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