Learning outcomes of the course unit
Knowledge and ability to understand
Through the lectures held during the course, the student will acquire the methods and knowledge necessary to understand the significance of the presence of microorganisms in food production and their impact on food quality and safety.
Using examples (case studies, scientific articles) related to food products and processes, students will learn how to apply the knowledge acquired in a real context. During the course, students will be given laboratory experiences related to the theoretical study and aimed at understanding the role of microorganisms in food as well as their determination, illustrating the main methods of analysis of food products and thus acquiring specific skills to students.
Autonomy of judgment
The student must be able to understand and critically evaluate the microbiological aspects related to products and food production. Using the acquired knowledge he will be able to evaluate the significance of the presence of microorganisms in the different phases of the food supply chain, from primary production to distribution and consumption. In particular, he must acquire the ability to independently assess the quality and microbiological safety of food products and processes.
Through lectures, laboratory practices and the comparison with the teacher, the student will acquire the specific vocabulary related to food microbiology. It is expected that, at the end of the course, the student is able to transmit, in oral and written form, the main contents of the course, such as dangers and microbiological risks related to food, food safety and / or quality problems.
After attending the course, the students will be able to deepen their knowledge on food microbiology through the independent consultation of specialized texts or scientific journals, even outside the topics dealt with strictly in class, in order to face effectively insertion into the working context or undertake further training courses.
There are no compulsory propaedeutical courses. Knowledge of the principles of general microbiology is recommended.
Course contents summary
The first part of the course deals with general topics related to microbial contamination of foods.
The second part of the course deals with the effects of the development of pathogenic, alterative and virtuous microorganisms in different foods.
The third part of the course explores the factors that influence the growth of microorganisms in foods and the modalities for their control in order to prevent or reduce the development of pathogenic and alterative and to favour the development of virtuous ones.
Microbiology and foods: concepts of contamination and microbial development in food.
The microbiological quality of food: contamination indexes, process indicators.
Microbial contamination and food.
Stages of growth of microorganisms and factors that regulate microbial development: i) intrinsic, ii) extrinsic and iii) implicit. i) Water activity, pH, Redox potential, structures and nutrients, antimicrobials. ii) Temperature, humidity, packaging atmosphere, preservatives, treatments. iii) interactions between microbial populations.
The alterations of microbial origin of foods: the alterative microorganisms and the different types of alterations.
The microorganisms causing foodborne illnesses. The analysis of microbiological risk in food. Hazard identification, hazard characterization, exposure assessment and control measures of the main microbial pathogens responsible for foodborne diseases.
The control of micro-organisms in food. Safety, sterility and stability. Effect of the main process strategies on microorganisms in food: heat treatments, reduction of water activity, pH lowering, antimicrobials.
Main microbiological problems of the different categories of food (water and non-alcoholic beverages, milk and dairy products, meat, fish products, vegetable products, eggs, preserves ...).
The program of practical lessons consists in the application of direct and indirect techniques to check the presence or absence of a specific microorganism and estimate the number of specific microbial populations in food.
Modern Food Microbiology. James M. Jay, Martin J. Loessner, David A. Golden (suggested/optional)
Lessons will be organized face-to-face with the possibility of using the lessons also remotely in synchronous (via Teams) and asynchronous
mode (uploaded on the Elly page of the course). The teaching will be carried out through lectures (5 CFU 40 hours) in the classroom with the help of slides that will represent teaching material, in addition to the recommended text. The slides will be available online on the websitehttps://elly.saf.unipr.it/2020/ in pdf format for students. The slides will be uploaded to Elly before each topic is covered. During the lessons, the appropriate use of technical language will be reiterated, and the links between the various parts of the course will be emphasized.
The course includes laboratory practices (1 CFU, 12 hours for 3 groups for a total of 36 hours) concerning the principles and methods of analysis that underlie research and the direct and indirect detection of microorganisms in food. The teaching materials made available to students will also include those relating to the methods used.
Assessment methods and criteria
At the end of the course the level of learning of the expected results will be verified for all the contents offered during the lessons, including the laboratory experiences. The learning verification related to the module will be carried out through a single partial test by a written exam. The written exam will consist of two parts:
1. The first consists of 10 closed questions that verify the knowledge of the fundamental concepts of the course. The answers will be evaluated in 30ths. The vote achieved in this part will weigh 30% on the voting of the module.
2. The second part consists of 10 synthetic open-ended questions to assess the level of knowledge acquired in all the topics covered. The answers will be evaluated in 30ths. The vote achieved in this part will weigh 70% on the voting of the module.
The achievement of 18/30 in this module of the integrated course is necessary in order to consider the module successful. The vote achieved will weigh 50% on the final grade of the integrated course.
If it is impossible to take the written exam in classroom due to rules imposed by the University, the exam will be carried out remotely by test on Elly platform. The test will consist of 33 closed questions with a time of 30 minutes. Each correct answer will be assigned a point. The test will be passed with 18 correct answers. From 31 to 33 correct answers will be conferred the laude. The assessment of the level of knowledge acquired also takes into consideration how the student is able to express himself correctly, with the specific scientific language of food microbiology.
In the event of a serious health emergency, the methods of teaching and verifying learning may be subject to changes which will be promptly communicated on Elly and / or on the course website.