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Some microorganisms have the potential to cause disease or illness in humans and animals. Microorganisms that have the ability to cause illness are referred to as pathogens and include bacteria, viruses, parasites, and other organisms. This chapter focuses on those pathogens that are transmitted via food and includes a discussion of pathogens, foodborne diseases the pathogens cause, the foods with which pathogens are commonly associated, and the steps that can be taken to eliminate or keep the microorganisms at safe levels.

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Correspondence to David McSwane .

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Take-Home Message

An understanding of common pathogens, foods associated with these pathogens, and common techniques to detect and control these hazards will serve the FPP well in carrying out his or her responsibilities.


Search the CDC’s website ( for outbreaks related to viruses, bacteria, and parasites. Determine contributing factors and methods recommended to control the outbreak and prevent a recurrence.

HandWashing Activity

There are several products on the market, such as Glo Germ ( and GlitterBug (, that can be used to illustrate contaminated hands and demonstrate the effectiveness of handwashing with the use of the Glo Germ or GlitterBug powder, gel, or liquid and an ultraviolet light (UV) or black light. Place the powder, gel, or liquid on the hands and look at them under a UV light in a dark room. The fluorescent material on the hands represents bacteria. Wash hands thoroughly and then look at them again under the UV light. Notice how the fluorescent material may still be seen around nails, between fingers, on the back of the hands, and on wrists and forearms. This represents bacteria that may remain after improper handwashing. Wash hands thoroughly and then look at the hands again under UV.

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McSwane, D., Salfinger, Y., Nummer, B., Winslow, A. (2015). Microbiology (of the Food Code). In: Bradsher, J., Wojtala, G., Kaml, C., Weiss, C., Read, D. (eds) Regulatory Foundations for the Food Protection Professional. Springer, New York, NY.

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