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Advances in Food Microbiology
FOOD 523
Instructor: Dr. Kevin Allen
Office: FNH 218
Office Hours: Tu 11am-1pm
Class Schedule: Wed/Fri 14:00-15:30
Classroom: FNH 300
Important Course Pages
Lecture Notes
Course Discussion

Course Description

Advances in Food Microbiology is a topical course intended to provide an advanced understanding of issues faced in controlling pathogenic and spoilage microorganisms in the production, distribution, and consumption of food. The course utilizes traditional lecturing, student-centred learning, and topical discussions to cover course material and food safety issues occurring in the provincial, Canadian, and global food supply. Focus is placed on linking pathogens with relevant reservoirs and understanding basic mechanisms used by microorganisms to survive mitigation strategies. Students will be assessed by midterm and final examinations, participation during lectures and seminars, and through their ability to direct a teaching seminar.

During the course, students will gain an advanced level of knowledge regarding the organisms identified as leading causes of foodborne disease in the developing world. This includes exploring unique genetic, physiological, toxin-related, epidemiological, etc., characteristics of various foodborne pathogens. Similarly, the manipulation of extrinsic and intrinsic parameters to control and/or enhance or minimize the presence of microorganisms in food will be discussed. Additional materials investigating antimicrobial resistance, pathogen detection, pathogen reservoirs, processing technology, and trends in foodborne disease that are relevant to foodborne disease are also investigated.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this course, students will:

  • Develop an advanced understanding of microbiological issues associated with the food continuum;
  • Develop a detailed understanding of the major microbiological reservoirs present in our food continuum, and how they may impact food quality and human disease;
  • Develop an understanding of the physiological processes by which microorganisms use to survive food processing interventions;
  • Develop familiarity with food regulatory agencies and regulations used to ensure food safety;
  • Independently summarize peer-reviewed papers for oral presentation and discussion amongst the class using a seminar format;
  • Develop improved oral communication through group and class-based discussion of topical food microbiology and food safety issues.

Student Evaluation

The course has been split between traditional lectures, student-directed learning, and topical discussions. Evaluation will be based on written examinations, presentations, and participation throughout the year. For written exams, the midterm examination will be based on lectures (i.e. approximately lectures 1-9), while the final examination will consist of 3-5 essay-based questions in which students will have 48h to complete. All students are expected to complete the test individually. Topics will be selected from class discussions, student-directed seminars, and course materials, but may also include relevant topics not covered throughout the semester.

The number and style of student presentations will be based on student enrolment. It is expected that students will be responsible for providing one individual student-directed lecture, and possibly a second group-based presentation. Details regarding this will be provided by the end of the third week. In general, presentation evaluations will be equally divided between the following areas: comprehension and mastery of the chosen topic, ability to effectively communicate to peers, and the ability to stimulate discussion following the presentation. Please note that all presentations should make a clear attempt to engage the audience in a manner that stimulates discussion.

Monitoring Topical Food Safety Issues

An important aspect of this course is to ensure students develop an understanding of how and why food safety issues occur in the food chain. To facilitate this, students will be expected to monitor recalls and outbreaks that occur in Canada and around the globe throughout the semester. Student-directed discussions regarding these topics, including how outbreaks occur and how they may be prevented, will be encouraged. Monitoring these issues may be done through relevant electronic formats, with communication to the class expected. Student participation in these discussions will contribute to your participation mark.


Activity Percent of Grade
Midterm Examination 35%
Student Seminar(s) 20%
Final Examination 35%
Participation 10%
TOTAL: 100%

Academic Conduct

At all times, students are expected to behave in an appropriate and respectful manner. All students should review the UBC policy on academic honesty (,286,0,0) and plagiarism ( If you are unsure of appropriate behaviour, please consult the instructor.

Food Microbiological References and Resources


  • Applied and Environmental Microbiology
  • Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety
  • International Journal of Food Microbiology
  • Food Control
  • Food Microbiology
  • Journal of Applied Microbiology
  • Journal of Food Protection
  • Journal of Food Science

Books (note: can be accessed online from the UBC Library website):

  • Motarjemi, Yasmine; Adams, Martin. Emerging Foodborne Pathogens. Woodhead Publishing.
  • Jay, James M.; Loessner, Martin J.; Golden, David A. Modern Food Microbiology. 7th edition, Springer 2005. (Note: an electronic version of this book is available freely online).
  • Lund, B.M.; Baird-Parker, T.C.; Gould, G.W. Microbiological Safety and Quality of Food, Volumes 1-2. Springer-Verlag.
  • Blackburn, C.W.; McClure, P.J. (2002). Foodborne Pathogens - Hazards, Risk Analysis and Control. Woodhead Publishing.

Tentative Lecture Schedule

Lecture Date (Fall, 2012) Topic
1 Sept 4 Course introduction and overview; Daily barf registration; associated reading; assignments
2 Sept 6 Review of Food Microbiology basics
3 Sept 11 Food microbiology/safety history, disease, trends, and emerging pathogens
4 Sept 13 Foodborne pathogen reservoirs, pre/post-harvest control, and microbiological quality of food; Food safety discussion
5 Sept 18 Microbial survival in the food chain; Food safety discussion
6 Sept 20 Produce as a source of foodborne disease; Dr. Pascal Delaquis, Agriculture and Agri-food Canada
7 Sept 25 New and emerging technologies for the reduction of pathogenic and spoilage organisms in food; Food safety discussion
8 Sept 27 Microbial survival in the food chain; Food safety discussion
9 Oct 2 Epidemiology of foodborne disease; Marsha Taylor, BC Centre for Disease Control
10 Oct 4 Food production plant sanitation, hygiene practices and the role of genotyping; Food safety discussion
11 Oct 9 Antimicrobial resistance in the food supply; Brandon Young, M.Sc. Student
12 Oct 11 Liseria policy in food; Jovana Kovacevic, Ph.D. Student
13 Oct 16 VTEC; Dr. Susan Bach, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
14 Oct 18 Student presentation; Food safety discussion
15 Oct 23 Midterm Examination
16 Oct 25 Student presentation; Food safety discussion
17 Oct 30 Student presentation; Food safety discussion
18 Nov 1 TBD
19 Nov 6 Student presentation; Food safety discussion
20 Nov 8 Student presentation; Food safety discussion
21 Nov 13 Student presentation; Food safety discussion
22 Nov 15 Student presentation; Food safety discussion
23 Nov 20 Student presentation; Food safety discussion
24 Nov 22 Student presentation; Food safety discussion
25 Nov 27 Review Lecture
26 Nov 29 Review Lecture