Full course description

1. Course Title:  Laboratory Techniques in Food Microbiology

2. Prerequisites, if any:  Basic understanding of organismal biology

3. Texts or Major Resources:  (optional)

Modern Food Microbiology – James M. Jay (June 2006)  ((Buy from Amazon.com)) (Links to an external site.)

Fundamental Food Microbiology – Bibek Ray October 2007)  ((Buy from Amazon.com)) (Links to an external site.)

4. Laboratory Description: 
This laboratory course is designed to allow food regulatory professionals and laboratory analysts to learn and perform experiments with various foods and microorganisms present in food sources and provides training in basic microbiological techniques. A detailed step-by- step overview of isolating indicator microorganisms and common pathogens that cause foodborne outbreaks from food sources is provided. The lab is designed as a level 1 course with five modules. Course modules provide insight into various staining methods, the importance of aseptic techniques, microbiology media composition and preparation, and various sampling methods. 

5. Laboratory Need and Goal(s):

This course is needed by food regulatory professionals and laboratory analysts to meet continuing education requirements and provide inspectors the opportunity to experience techniques used to detect foodborne pathogens.  Based on the Needs Assessment, the development of this e-learning course will reduce the cost of training for food regulatory professionals and laboratory analysts. The greatest cost in training for food regulatory professionals and laboratory analysts comes from travel and education.  By developing this online course as part of the overall Food Safety Instructional Program, food regulatory professionals and laboratory analysts will have the opportunity to receive the training they need at their convenience without having to travel or disrupt their schedules.  The course goals are:

  • Become familiar with the basic concepts of food microbiology and aseptic techniques
  • Become familiar with the composition and properties of common growth medias used for isolation of foodborne pathogens
  • Learn staining techniques used to detect foodborne pathogens

6. Student Outcomes: 

Participants will be able to:

  • Use basic aseptic techniques used during sampling, culturing, and isolation of microorganisms
  • Describe the use of different types of microscopes
  • Identify sampling methods, media compositions and formulations of specific bacteria and fungi
  • Analyze the microbial quality of air and water in food processing plants
  • Grow and isolate various bacteria and fungi important in foods and food products
  • Select appropriate biochemical tests used to identify specific microorganisms

7. Course Content:

Level 1:

Prerequisite – Basic understanding of biology


Module 1.            

  • Introduction to microorganisms/ Microscope use

-   Slides/ fixed cultures of organisms important in food microbiology

-   Examine shapes and sizes of different bacteria, viruses and fungi

  • Participants will have a better understanding of microscope use and will be able to view and examine shapes and sizes of microorganisms

Module 2.            

  • Aseptic techniques

-   Use of gloves, lab coat, mask, ethanol wash and laminar flow chamber

  • Live and fixed bacteria

-          Gram stain

-          Malachite stain

-          Methylene Blue stain

  • Participants will be familiarized with sterile working techniques and will have a better understanding of different bacterial staining methods

Module 3.            

  • Microbiology media

-          Composition and preparation

  • Plating bacteria in liquid and solid growth media
  • Enumeration techniques

-          Pour plate

-          Spread plate

-          Spiral plate

-          Anaerobic Cultivation

  •  Participants will learn how to formulate different growth media and bacterial enumeration using various techniques

Module 4.            

  • Aseptic Sampling – Foods and Food surfaces

-          Contact surfaces

-          Swab samples

-          Sponge samples

-          Excision samples

  • Participants will learn different sampling techniques from various samples

Module 5.            

  • Water

-          Aerobic plate count

-          Coliform and fecal coliform count

–          MPN method

  • Participants will learn how to analyze water for bacterial contamination


8. Assessment Schedule:

e-Quizzes: Each lesson will have a quiz at the end of the module. The quiz is based on material discussed in the lessons. The format includes multiple choice, question-answer, and fill-in-the blanks.

e-Exam: Final exams (100 pts.) will be given upon completion of designated sets of modules.

9. Criteria for Successful Completion:

Grading Criteria

Percent of Total


1 Exams

Lab Quizzes







Grading Scale


Percent of Points


70% and above

69% or below