Lesson 1c - Why are microorganisms important?

Microorganisms are everywhere. You may not see, taste, or smell them, but they hide on your body, in the air, on kitchen counters and utensils, and in food. The main microorganisms are viruses, parasites, fungi and bacteria.Virus
Viruses are the tiniest, and probably the simplest, form of life. They are not able to reproduce outside a living cell yet can survive for a period of time even on inanimate objects, such as door handles. Once they enter a cell, they force it to make more viruses.

Some viruses are extremely resistant to heat and cold. They don’t need potentially hazardous food to survive. Once in the food, they don’t multiply. The food is mainly a transportation device to get from one host to another. Hepatitis A and norovirus have been identified as the cause of many foodborne illness outbreaks.


Parasite Graphic

Parasites need to live on or in a host to survive. Examples of parasites that may contaminate food or water are Trichinella spiralis (trichinosis) that affects pork and Anisakis roundworm that affects fish.


Fungi Graphic


Fungi can be microscopic or as big as a giant mushroom. Fungi are found in the air, soil, plants, animals, water, and some food. Molds and yeast are fungi. Molds may produce dangerous toxins in food. Yeast development in foods will affect quality.
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