Microbiological hazards include bacteria, viruses, yeast & mould and protozoa.
Which is the odd one out?
Viruses can 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.
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
There are many bacteria which can cause disease and are transmitted in food. These include:
E.coli (various serotypes)
Clostridium botulinum (causes botulism)
There are also many parasites and toxins from moulds and bacteria. Some of which are heat resistant.
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.
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 (fao.org) 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.