Food Microbiology module information

Lecture topics

  • Monday BIOL20521 Food Microbiology; Part-time degree course (First half term)
  • Monday BIOL30541 Food Poisoning & Food Safety; Part-time degree course (Second half term)
  • Tuesday BIOL30541 Food Poisoning & Food Safety; Full-time degree course (Second half term)
  • Wednesday ENVH 22063 Food Safety Studies; Environmental Health students (Second half term)
  • Thursday BIOL20521 Food Microbiology; Full-time degree course (Second half term)


    1. Overview
    2. Important Messages: 3rd March 2005
    3. Online Material
    4. Books
    5. Research
    6. Journals
    7. Contacting me
    8. Exams, etc


    The food microbiology modules aim to give you a broad experience of the topic, yet also enable you to keep up to date with recent events. By the very nature of the topic and the media attention on food scares it is plausable that important topics will arise either during the presentation of the module or shortly afterwards, but before the exam or viva! It is therefore advisble to frequently use the Food Microbiology Information Centre to access the hypertext links concerning current issues. If you independently come across a site which would be useful please email it to me at Module proformas are found at : HLX249 and HLX355

    Important Messages

    Dr Gina Manning is giving a talk in ED282 on Friday at 1:10 to 2pm on Campylobacter. All final year students are recommended to attend.

    Formal report : Pathogen Modeling Program deadline is 15th March

    Sudan Red 1 alert

    Here are some links concerning the history and current situation concerning Sudan Red 1 in foods. It is not a food poisoning issue, but nevertheless does affect people's attitude to general food safety and therefore pertinent.

    1. Background
    2. EU Chemical Safety of Food press release
    3. Emergency measures EU 2003 (pdf file)

    New lecturer

    There will be a new lecturer, Dr Gina Manning, for this module and hence the emphasis will probably be different to previous years. Therefore the exam paper topic in 2005 may differ from those of previous years.

    Formal report BIOL30541

    The formal report will be the Pathogen Modeling Program exercise. You will each be given a bacterium to study in detail. You will need to look up the temperature, aerobe/anaerobe, pH and water activity of your organism, and details (pH, water activity, temp) of typical foods that the organism is associated with. You will then use the Pathogen Modeling Program to study the limits of microbial growth.

    Version 6 and above of 'Pathogen Modeling Program' does not allow you to look at multiple growth parameters. Therefore I'll take about 20 minutes of the lecture period to show you multiple growth using version 5 that I have on my laptop computer.

    All modules:

    The 'Emerging Infectious Disease' journal has published a paper on the disease risk from food in England and Wales for the period 1996-2000. It is accessible here: link.


    The new MSc Research degree has started. This differs from the MSc Microbial Biotechnology in that there is more project time and less taught modules. Essentailly one starts the project in September and attends the module 'Research Methods & IT' plus 2 other modules to make up a total of 60 CPs. See the MSc web site (MSc Microbial Biotechnology) for further details of the modules to choose from.


    An issue of Int. J. Food Microbiology (volume 73, issues 2-3, pages 107-442) in 2003 has numerous articles on the application of predictive microbiology which are relevant to your formal report. You can get the article from the library and also from the list of ejournals by going into the University library web site Also if you look through Int J Food Microbiol issues you will find a review article on Campylobacter jejuni.


    Remember that you can find details on microbial growth parameters, pH of foods, etc. by using the URL links on your timetable below (Hint: extrinsic and intrinsic parameters).

    Lecture Topics

    There are three modules concerning food microbiology being taught in a year. Below are the details I can provide concerning principally my lecture topics and some of Dr Smith's.

    BIOL20521 Food Microbiology (First half term)

    BIOL20521 Lecture topics Monday afternoon room 193
    Week number Time and Lecturer Topic
    1 1-2pm Lecture: Dr G. Manning General introduction to food microbiology

    Intrinsic and extrinsic parameters of food

    Food contamination & spoilage

    2 1-2pm Lecture: Dr G. Manning Microbial flora of meat
    3 1-2pm Lecture: Dr G. Manning Poultry, fish & shellfish
    4 1-2pm Lecture: Dr G. Manning Milk & eggs
    5 1-2pm Lecture: Dr G. Manning Preservation techniques Part 1


    6 1-2pm Lecture: Dr G. Manning Preservation techniques Part 2


    7 1-2pm Lecture: Dr S. Forsythe Food education (pdf file)

    Poetic Justice !

    Spot the Mistake !

    Abridged FSA hand washing survey

    FSA catering hygiene survey (pdf file)

    8 1-2pm Lecture: Dr S. Forsythe Foodborne illness (inactive) Salmonella, Campylobacter and E. coli O157(inactive)
    9 1-2pm Lecture; Dr S. Forsythe Listeria, spore-forming and toxin-producing pathogens (inactive)
    10 1-2pm Lecture : Dr Forsythe Emerging food and water pathogens (pdf file)

    PHLS RTE guidelines (pdf file) and Microbial specifications

    2-5pm Practical: Dr Forsythe Microbial contamination of food (pdf file) Ready-to-eat foods (pdf file) Formal report
    5:30-9pm Practical : Dr G. Manning Microbiology of fresh market meat part 1(lab. file)
    11 1-2pm Lecture : Dr S. Forsythe HACCP overview HACCP Powerpoint presentation
    2-5pm Practical: Dr S. Forsythe Identification methods (part of Formal report)
    12 1-2pm Lecture : Dr S Forsythe Revision and Practical results
    3-5:30pm Practical : Dr G. Manning Microbiology of fresh market meat Part 2

    BIOL20521 Food Microbiology (Second half year)

    BIOL20521 Lecture topics Thursday afternoon, Room ED161
    Week number Dr Forsythe Dr Manning/Dr Carlile
    16 Overview

    Food education (pdf file)

    Poetic Justice !

    Growth parameters
    17 Seminar : Food spoilage Practical : Food spoilage
    18 Seminar : Dairy products Practical : Dairy Microbiology (pdf file)

    PHLS ready to eat guidelines

    19 Seminar : Personal hygiene Practical: Microbial flora of Personnel
    20 Seminar Practical: collect results
    21 Human flora Lactic acid bacteria
    22 Microbial ecology of food Lactic acid bacteria
    23 Foodborne pathogens 1

    Foodborne illness(inactive) and

    Salmonella, Campylobacter and E. coli O157 (inactive)

    Food spoilage; meat
    24 Foodborne pathogens 2

    Listeria, spore-forming and toxin-producing pathogens (inactive)

    Food spoilage; eggs & eggs
    25 Food monitoring

    PHLS ready to eat guidelines and Microbial specifications

    Preservation methods

    BIOL30541 Food Poisoning and Food Safety, BSc Biological Sciences (part-time degree course) Monday only

    Week number Dr Forsythe Dr Manning
    16 HACCP

    Food education (pdf file)

    Introduction to HACCP

    HACCP (click to see Powerpoint presentation)

    HACCP video (Real player required)

    Microbiological Risk Assessment

    Microbiological risk assessment (Powerpoint presentation)

    Product recalls

    Poetic Justice !

    Growth parameters and Pathogen Modeling Program

    Predictive microbiology

    Factors affecting growth

    pH of foods

    Water activity

    17 HACCP Seminar: Microbial contamination of food

    Food Microbiology Course support

    PHLS ready-to-eat guidelines

    Microbial specifications & EU Directives

    ICMSF hazard groups

    18 Practical :Microbial contamination of food Worksheets for Practical 1 to complete on week 19
    19 Practical : Pathogen Modelling Program Practical : Pathogen Modeling Program (pdf file)
    20 Lecture : Outbreak investigation Lecture : Salmonella
    21 Lecture : Viruses Lecture : Campylobacter
    22 Lecture : E. coli O157, Listeria Lecture : St. aureus, B. cereus, Cl. perfringens
    23 Lecture : Sampling plans (EU Vertical Directives & PHLS RTE) Practical :Methods of Detection
    24 Outbreak investigation Practical: Collect results
    25 Lecture : Conventional detection methods Lecture :Molecular detection methods
    26 Bank Holiday Bank Holiday
    27 Lecture : Emergent foodborne pathogens

    Emerging pathogens and antibiotic resistance

    Emerging food and water pathogens (pdf file)


    Exam outline

    BIOL30541 Food Poisoning and Food Safety, Full-time students Tuesday mornings

    Week number Session 1 (9-10am) Session 2 (10-11am or 10-1pm)
    16 Lec: Overview of food poisoning organisms

    Bkg: Food education (pdf file)

    Bkg: Poetic Justice !

    Lec: Salmonella
    17 Lec: Growth parameters


    for information on food microbiology research

    Lec: Campylobacter
    18 Seminar : Microbial contamination of food Practical: Microbial contamination of food, Laboratory file.

    Worksheets for Practical 1 to complete on week 19

    19 Sem : Pathogen Modeling Program Worksheet answers for Practical 1 (inactive)

    Practical (Formal report) Pathogen Modelling Program (pdf file)

    20 PHLS ready-to-eat guidelines

    Microbial specifications

    Practical : Pathogen Modelling Program (pdf file)
    21 EU Directives

    ICMSF hazard groups

    Detection methods Part 1(inactive)

    HACCP video (Realplayer required)

    Detection methods Part 1
    22 Towards HACCP & MRA (Powerpoint presentation) Detection methods Part 2
    23 Towards HACCP & MRA Part 2 E coli O157 & Listeria
    24 Lecture : Outbreak investigation Cl perfringens
    25 Emergent pathogen case study : Enterobacter sakazakii(inactive) B cereus & St aureus
    26 Microbiological risk assessment (Powerpoint presentation)(inactive) Viruses
    27 Emergent foodborne pathogens(inactive) Emerging pathogens and antibiotic resistance

    Exam outline

    Environmental Health students

    Week number Dr Forsythe Dr Manning
    16 Introduction & overview

    Food education (pdf)

    Poetic Justice !

    Microbial ecology of food
    17 Foodborne illness 1 Growth parameters
    18 Foodborne illness 2

    Emerging food and water pathogens (pdf file)

    Meat spoilage
    19 EU Directives & 'PHLS' RTE guidelines

    PHLS ready-to-eat guidelines

    Microbiological Criteria

    Seafood spoilage
    20 EU Directives & sampling plans

    ICMSF hazard groups

    Pre-requisites of HACCP

    Practical : Microbial flora of personnel (pdf file)
    21 HACCP

    General HACCP Powerpoint presentation

    Practical : Microbial survival
    22 HACCP Practical :Pathogen Modelling Program (pdf file)
    23 Pathogens in milk Practical: Microbial contamination of raw ingredients (inactive)
    24 Preservation and canning Practical: Ready-to-eat products
    25 Review of preservation methods Lecture : Outbreak investigation
    26 Revision Revision

    Online material

    I am developing online teaching support material which you can easily access and should be your first port of call for supllementary material. There is also the Food Microbiology Information Centre which is designed more for professional microbiologists and those in regulatory authorities, nevertheless you can access information on product recalls and outbreaks from there.

    I also have backup a site at The reason for the latter two sites is that it acts as backups if there are any University server problems.

    There are a few books available online, but you download it page, by page, by page, by...If you want to try it then click away!

  • Ensuring food safety
  • Microbial criteria for food
  • Microbial Processes


    There is a wide variety of food microbiology journals. Although you may not be able to understand many of the articles, I strongly recommend that you photocopy an article from these journals and study their format, such as table and figure presentation and referencing format.

    More general microbiology journals include Applied and Environmental Microbiology and Microbiology (formerly Journal of General Microbiology).

    Online journals

    Some of these will give full length articles, others only tables of content (TOC)

    FoodHACCP Journal of Food Protection Current issues in food microbiology Journal of Rapid Methods and Automation
    Letters in Applied Microbiology Food Microbiology International Journal of Food Microbiology Food Control
    Journal of Food Quality Journal of Food Processing and Preservation Journal of Food Safety Internet Journal of Food Safety
    Canadian Journal of Microbiology Current Microbiology Enzyme and Microbial Technology FEMS Microbiology
    International Journal of Biodegradation and Biodeterioration Journal of Bacteriology Applied and Environmental Microbiology Microbial and Molecular Biology Reviews
    Infection and Immunity Journal of Virology Luminescence Journal of Biotechnology
    Electronic Journal of Infectious Diseases Journal of Microbiological Methods Virus International (collection of journals and methods). Warning this site has the annoying ability not to let you reverse your web browser! Microbiology
    Pathobiology Research in Microbiology Veterinary Microbiology Trends in Microbiology
    Current Opinion in Microbiology Trends in Biotechnology Biotechnology Advances Microbial Pathogeneis
    Microbes and infection Water Research World Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology CDC Emerging Infectious Diseases>
    Critical Reviews in Biotechnology (Note hard to get much direct info.) Critical Reviews in Microbiology (Note hard to get much direct info.) Bioremediation Journal (Note hard to get much direct info.)


      Recommended Reading
    • The Microbiology of Safe Food (Forsythe, 2002) Essential
    • Food Hygiene, Microbiology and HACCP (Forsythe & Hayes, 1998) Recommended
    • Microbiological Risk Assessment of Food (Forsythe, 2002) Recommended

    There is a wide range of food microbiology books in the Clifton library including 'The Microbiology of Safe Food' which is well worth a good read (!). There are four copies available on 1-week loans and on on counter reference. You should also refer to the Boots library resources in the City site. Material is located at the City site because of the degree course for environmental health students. A very underused resource is the Barbour Index which is a microfiche facility that holds vast amounts of information, even copies of whole books! Both Clifton and Boots libraries have the Barbour Index, except the Boots library also has an additional section on EU legislation. A copy of my other book `Food Hygiene, Microbiology and HACCP’ is on the short loan collection desk so that it should be readily available to you. The book is aimed at industry and so complements the major food microbiology textbooks by Jay (Modern Food Microbiology) and Hobbs&Roberts (Food Poisoning and Food Hygiene). The voluminous book by Mossel et al (Essentials of the Microbiology of Foods. A textbook for advanced studies) contains copious amounts of information, but personally speaking I find it hard to read and the main techniques are not necessarily those accepted widely in the EU. For microbiology techniques a strongly recommended text is `Practical Food Microbiology’ by the PHLS. The ICMSF series of books are produced by worldwide accepted authorities and so , although `reference text’ in nature they should not be overlooked. The `Principles and Practices for the Safe Processing of Foods’ is produced by the Heinz corporation and can be found in the Boots library.

    Because of the relatively recent industry requirement for the HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) approach to safe food production, this topic will be presented with a greater emphasis than you will find in general food microbiology textbooks. The book 'Food Hygiene, Microbiology and HACCP' is in the library but it is aimed more for industry than undergraduates

    I wrote the book 'Microbiological Risk Assessment of Food'. This is a relatively new topic which the World Health Organisation is promoting to improve safe food production worldwide. It will be of increasing importance in the food industry and hence I will be introducing you to the topic.

    The variety of food poisoning bacteria documented excedes the time available for the modules. Therefore key organisms will be covered and you should supplement your lecture material with information from the library and the Web sites provided for you HERE.

    Topics such as BSE and nvCJD are not yet in the mainstream of food microbiology topics, despite their high profile with the general public. Because of this I have included BSE, etc. Web sites on the homepage for your general background reading.


    Myself and Dr Manning have a research interests in food microbiology (rapid detection methods, Salmonella, Campylobacter and the newly emerging pathogens Enterobacter sakazakii and Arcobacter) . Therefore the seminar periods will sometimes be used to demonstrate pieces of equipment (ATP bioluminescence and immunomagnetic separation) which you would not normally have access to in an undergraduate degree course.

    Contacting me

    Messages can be sent to me via email or voicemail (ext 3529) and I am in the office ED246. I hope you find the modules interesting and do not put you off eating!


    Exams, etc

    General advice for end of module tests and exams:

    * It is always good practise to double check the number of questions needing to be answered and the amount of time allowed.

    * You may pick up a few (vital) marks just attempting a question you’re uncertain of rather than ignoring it altogether.

    * We can only mark what is written down, so write it down.

    * With `long’ answers’,i.e. those requiring 45 minutes to answer, it is a good idea to spend 5 minutes writing down keywords and then numbering them into a logical order. This can help to jog your memory and gives you a structure to the answer.

    * Again with `long’ answers a general introductory paragraph (3 lines approx.) and concluding paragraph (about 3 lines) can help to convince the examiner you understand the question and know the important points to emphasize.

    BIOL20521 Food Microbiology
  • The exam is a choice of two questions from 4, the paper is not sectioned.
    BIOL30541 Food Poisoning and Food Safety module:
  • The exam is a choice of two questions from 4, the paper is not sectioned.

    Previous questions

    • Discuss how poor food hygiene can result in food poisoning outbreaks.
    • Discuss the importance of Salmonella as a food poisoning organism.
    • Discuss the importance of Escherichia coli in food poisoning.
    • What is listeriosis food poisoning and which foods is it associated with?
    • Discuss the relevance of HACCP to the food industry.
    • Describe the setting of microbiological criteria in the food industry.
    • Discuss the differences (and the significance) between Campylobacter and Salmonella food poisoning.
    • Describe the intrinsic parameters which influence the growth of micro-organisms in food.
    • Discuss the usefulness and limitations of the PHLS (HPA) guidelines for ready-to-eat foods at point of sale.
    • Discuss the significance of 'newly emergent' food poisoning organisms.
    • Review the application of rapid methods in food microbiology.
    • Discuss the limitations of conventional methods for the detection micro-organisms of importance in the food industry.
    • Discuss the use of lactic acid bacteria in the dairy industry.
    • Discuss the merits of predictive modelling of microbial growth with reference to a named food pathogen.
    • Given that the production of roast beef contains the stages; raw meat supply, storage, preparation for cooking, cooking and warm holding. Construct a HACCP procedure to cover both Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points, with possible Critical Limits.
    • Describe microbiological detection methods. Also contrast this question with 'Discuss microbiological detection methods'. There is a difference!
    • Describe Microbiological Risk Assessment and its application to the food industry.
    • Discuss the applciation of Microbiological Risk Assessment as a new means of safe food production.
    • Compare HACCP and MRA as methods of ensuring safe food production and consumption.
    • Note: It is also plausible that a question may consist of a 'Case study' where the details of a food poisoning outbreak are presented and you will need to determine. which organism may have caused the outbreak and how it could have been avoided.