Introduction

Rapid methods and automation in microbiology is a dynamic area in applied microbiology dealing with the study of improved methods for the isolation, early detection, characterization, and enumeration of microorganisms and their products in clinical, food, industrial, and environmental samples. In the past 20 years this field has emerged into an important subdivision of the general field of applied microbiology and is gaining momentum nationally and internationally as an area of research and application to monitor the numbers, kinds, and metabolites of microorganisms related to food spoilage, food preservation, food fermentation, food safety, and foodborne pathogens. Medical microbiologists began involvement with rapid methods around the mid-1960s. In the 1970s developments started to accelerate and continued to do so into the 1980s, 1990s, and up to the present day. Food microbiologists were lagging about 10 years behind the medical microbiologists but in the past decade they have greatly increased their activities in this field [1].

This chapter presents rapid microbiological methods for food in general with emphasis in fruit and vegetable microbiology.

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