Microbes and food


The microbes associated with our food tend to have a bad name – food poisoning is often in the news.

Yet while some make us ill and others can be a nuisance by spoiling our food, without the activities of microbes there would no bread, cheese, beer or chocolate. Friend or foe – food microbes are always on the menu.


  • Food poisoning

    There are probably at least a million cases of microbial food poisoning in the UK every year costing an estimated £1.5 billion a year – how can anything as small as a microbe cause all this trouble?

  • Spoilers

    When microbes grow on food it soon beings to smell nasty, look slimy, change colour, taste awful or even get a furry coating and is inedible. Find out what’s causing this.

  • Producers

    Microbes ferment sugar to make energy for themselves – luckily for us food like bread and yoghurt can be made by microbial fermentations.

Main image: iStock/Dr_Microbe