Increased food microbiology training key to food safety


Increased food microbiology training key to food safety Lincoln University is tackling national and international food safety issues head on with a new microbiology short course aimed at industry. From 16-18 June, delegates were welcomed to the University’s fully equipped Centre for Food Research and Innovation (CRFI) for the three-day Practical Food Microbiology course aimed at teaching the basics of practical microbiology essential for ensuring food safety. CRFI associate director, and Senior Lecturer in Food Microbiology, Dr Malik Hussain, says ongoing professional development in the food safety sector is “critical”. “Increased training in food microbiology is absolutely critical to the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders and the success of our export markets. “Food production and processing is a key sector for New Zealand economic growth. Over the last ten years, New Zealand’s food exports have increased, with the Government strongly focused on boosting this sector further. This means we need more trained people to assist the food industry in the assurance of food safety – the key element in everything from domestic food business to international trade.” The course covered types and diversity of microorganisms, and key factors for their control. It also included isolation and enumeration of microorganisms from food, inhibition and destruction of microorganisms, food poisoning, food spoilage, growth media, and the maintenance and correct use of equipment in the laboratory. “The training is designed in a way to develop a particular set of skills that are needed to test food or water samples for total microbial load or presence of most common pathogens, such as total microbial count, E. coli, Coliforms, S. aureus, Listeria, yeast and mould,” says Dr Hussain. “In order to maintain a good reputation for safe food production, it is important to know which pathogens are associated with particular foods and most likely to threaten product and customer safety.” Dr Hussain says the course was a great opportunity for those in the industry to gain hands-on experience within Lincoln’s state-of-the-art food research laboratories. “As an industry-based course, this opportunity enabled delegates to learn the basics of practical microbiology in a high spec laboratory setting, and it also enabled them access to our highly skilled staff, at the cutting edge of scientific research.” Course attendees included food processing managers and technicians, public health professionals, food service professionals with technical backgrounds, and practicing microbiologists. It also provided an advantage to people seeking to enter into the food testing and food safety sector, such as biological science graduates looking to switch profession. “These courses are beneficial to anyone – even the general public – who needs an appreciation of how microbiology testing of foods is done at a basic level,” says Dr Hussain. Due to high demand, Dr Hussain is planning to continue the series, and will develop and run a series of intermediate and advanced level food microbiological courses in the coming months. More information on upcoming professional development courses can be found at