Background And Historical Significance

Efficient food safety and sanitation systems have evolved through scientifically advanced food processing and food safety surveillance technologies. Changing lifestyles have also created a demand for more convenient, shelf-stable, and ready-to-eat foods. The microbial flora of food products includes those microorganisms associated with raw materials, those acquired from food handling procedures, those acquired from (or those that survive) food processing and preservation treatments, and those that multiply during storage.

Because organisms are highly adaptable, technological advances, although lowering the total level of microbial contamination found in food, may also select or alter the microbial flora and create new problems. Such advances have included improved refrigeration, modified atmosphere packaging, vacuum sealing, and microwave cooking. Agricultural practices may also change the microbial flora, as with the advent of more centralization, more crowding of animals in feedlots and in transit to slaughter, altered feeding practices, and subtherapeutic antibiotic and drug use. Medical antibiotic and drug use may also play a role in the evolution of resistant strains of pathogens.

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