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Te Tari Moromoroiti me te Ārai Mate

MICR 331: Food Microbiology

First Semester - 18 points

Course prescription

The fundamentals of food microbiology and its importance to the community, food preservation; food allergies, food-borne infections; the microbiological analysis of foods including data interpretation.

"I really enjoyed the course. It was super interesting and the lecturers were great and knew a lot about their topics." - MICR 331 student, 2019.

Course overview

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  • Microbiology is a critical component of the food industry being central to all aspects of food generation from spoilage to production. This paper is jointly taught with the Department of Food Science and the course aims are to:

    1. develop an understanding of the relationship between microorganisms and food with an emphasis on food safety, quality and shelf life
    2. develop an understanding of the methods/regimes that may be implemented to enhance food safety, quality and shelf life
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  • If you are interested in the epidemiology of the major food-borne pathogens and how they multiply and survive in food, and the role of microbes in spoilage and shelf life, how microbiology is used to enhance food safety and shelf life at a practical level and how food pathogens are detected, then this course will provide the theoretical and practical links to this field.




Lecture course overview

  • Foodborne pathogens: the major foodborne pathogens that cause infections - SalmonellaCampylobacterEscherichia coli O157:H7 and Listeria monocytogenes - characteristics, epidemiology and sources, and their ability to multiply/survive in food. Toxin (Staphylococcus aureus) and spore-producing (Clostridium perfringens) foodborne pathogens and introduction to viral foodborne pathogens in particular noroviruses.
  • Molecular and traditional methods of detection of foodborne pathogens and food spoilage organisms
  • Hazard Analysis Critical Control point (HACCP) plans
  • Factors affecting microbes in food: in particular intrinsic factors such as water activity, nutrient availability, biological structures and antimicrobial substances and extrinsic factors such as temperature, relative humidity, gaseous atmosphere, presence and activities of other microorganisms
  • Food spoilage microorganisms associated with red meat, poultry, finned fish and dairy 
  • Methods of food preservation in particular heat, chemical preservatives and processing technologies such as microwave, UV light, pulsed bright light, ionising radiation, pulsed electric fields and high pressure
  • Cleaning and sanitisation in food processing premises; the importance of preventing/removing biofilms in food processing plants

Lab course overview

In the laboratory course you will detect, identify or enumerate microorganisms or their metabolic products in food and apply this knowledge to food product and processing evaluation. Over the 4-week lab course you will:

  1. Preserve greenshell mussels using an acidic marinade
  2. Isolate and enumerate coliform bacteria from food and water
  3. Use PCR to detect Escherichia coli in mayonnaise
  4. Use an antibody based test to detect Listeria in milk
  5. Determine the thermal death time for Listeria in fish

Course prerequisites

MICR 221


View the details of this paper on the University of Otago website


There is no required text for this course but you will be directed to relevant scientific papers during lectures.

Teaching staff

For more information

View the details of this paper on the University of Otago website

Students are encouraged to contact staff by email to make arrangements for a time to discuss course-related matters.

For more information on this course, please contact Dr Daniel Pletzer.