Microorganisms in Food

The consumption of food that has been contaminated with bacteria may cause a whole range of serious diseases, such as diorrhea and vomiting, and will not only lead to the loss of entire batches on the part of the producing company but also significantly damage their image. The most common example are Salmonella which may occur in meat as well as in numerous different foods such as chocolate, spices and egg products.

Less well known harmful bacteria such as Listeria, Campylobacter, Escherichia coli or Legionella also represent a potential threat to the consumer and may be far more resistant to preserving measures such as heating, for example. While Salmonella can contaminate almost all foods, microorganisms are frequently specialised, i.e. they contaminate specifically milk products (Listeria), water (Legionella) or poultry (Campylobacter).

The following list contains a selection of pathogens and the foods they may be found in:

  • Salmonella: egg products, chocolate, poultry and meat products, spices etc.
  • Listeria: poultry and meat products, milk, seafood
  • Campylobacter: poultry, raw milk
  • Cronobacter (formerly Enterobacter sakazakii): milk products, milk powder
  • VTEC stx 1/2 (verotoxin producing E. coli): beef, raw milk
  • Staphylococcus aureus: meat, egg and milk products, pasta
  • Shigella: drinking waters, fruits and vergetables
  • Pseudomonads: fruits and vegetables, drinking waters