Food microbiology is the study of the microorganisms that inhabit, create, or contaminate food including the study of microorganisms causing food spoilage, pathogens that may cause disease especially if food is improperly cooked or stored, those used to produce fermented foods such as cheese, yogurt, bread, beer, and wine, and those with other useful roles such as producing probiotics. Food safety is a major focus of food microbiology. Numerous agents of disease, pathogens are readily transmitted via food, including bacteria, and viruses. Microbial toxins are also possible contaminants of food. However, microorganisms and their products can also be used to combat these pathogenic microbes. Probiotic bacteria, including those that produce bacteriocins can kill and inhibit pathogens. Alternatively, purified bacteriocins such as nisin can be added directly to food products. Finally, bacteriophages, viruses that only infect bacteria, can be used to kill bacterial pathogens. Thorough preparation of food, including proper cooking, eliminates most bacteria and viruses.

X