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Microbes in Food Dennis Focht
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Microbes in Food

(Revised Edition)

By Dennis Focht

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-62661-056-9, 230 pages

Food production and food safety can be summarized with the acronym ITT: inoculation, time, and temperature. If the microorganism is present (inoculated into food), then it is essential to know if it will grow and increase in numbers. The two factors that determine this are time and temperature. Clearly, spoilage will be reduced significantly in a refrigerator (temperature), yet with prolonged incubation (time), spoilage can still occur. Many foodborne epidemics could have been avoided had food handlers been aware of these basic principles. The food environment is a great example of natural selection and very relevant to food safety. Why are home-canned vegetables potentially dangerous if not pressure-sterilized, while no such risk exists with home-canned fruits? Have foodborne illnesses been on the increase or is this simply a matter of better reporting? Have changes in food processing, centralization of markets, and dining preferences of consumers made contamination (I of ITT) more problematical than 30 years ago when fresh vegetables were never considered to be at risk for pathogens? The answers to these questions have to do with producer and consumer practices, but the underlying catalyst is the composition of the microbial flora and the environment in which they thrive.

Microbes in Food is organized in three sections:

  • Section I focuses on the growth and inhibition of microorganisms.
  • Section II is about how microorganisms are used in food production and changes they bring about in food spoilage.
  • Section III deals with the nature of foodborne pathogens, disease symptom, detection methods, risk assessment, and food safety regulations.

Dennis Focht obtained his B.S. in agricultural research from Rutgers University in 1963. He received his Ph.D. in bacteriology from Iowa State University in 1968, and spent two years doing post-doctoral research at Cornell University. He came to the University of California, Riverside in 1970, where he has been since. He has mentored more than a dozen Ph.D. students and has hosted many more postdoctoral and visiting scientists in his laboratory working on the microbial metabolism of agricultural and industrial chemicals (xenobiotics). He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the American Academy of Microbiology.