Yes, food microbiology has changed.

For information about food microbiology hazards click here.

Micro organisms

Over the last 20 years, the types of micro-organism that are significant has been added to (for example) –

 Listeria,

Shiga toxin producing E.coli – under cooked meats

Norovirus

Hepatitis E – under cooked pork based products

Psychotropic Clostridium botulinum (cold loving) Chilled foods, particularly vacuum and low oxygen MAP products.

microbiology
quality assurance

The food we buy

The types of food that consumers buy is changing.

Processes have changed

The increasing use of modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) and vacuum packaging impacts on the types of micro organism that can survive and multiply.

Consumer and retailer groups demand low additive, clean label foods plus longer shelf life for foods. In turn, this leads to new ingredients which changes the ecology of the food we eat. 

Consumer uses of food are changing – consumption of raw foods intended to be cooked. For example: frozen vegetables consumed as part of salads and smoothies

Consumers

Consumers are changing. The human population is aging. There is an increased use of long term medication. This is due to the population demographic and medical research which is treating previously untreatable conditions.

 

 

  New methodology

Food microbiology changes mean that there is increased efficiency in testing.

Quicker identification  may present results in a different way. This requires new interpretation of results and possibly the subsequent actions to be taken.

 The ability to look for the presence of defined genes. This means that genes which were never before looked for before can now be identified and others excluded from investigations. This includes those genes responsible for the pathogenicity of micro organisms

Root cause analysis and tracking of contamination now possible, for some micro organisms. This is a major leap forward. The tracking of sources of contamination will be invaluable to investigating outbreaks.  

Designing products to be microbiologically safe and product design to be around the pathogens, rather than other way around. The technology is advancing so that our knowledge and understanding of pathogens will create products from a pathogen exclusion perspective first. 

Naturally, HACCP changes must be made as reformulation occurs. Re validation of HACCP is critical to maintaining your food safety management system. 

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