According to the Van Dale dictionary, microbiology is ‘the biology of micro-organisms’. In a microbiological laboratory we make use of the characteristics of micro-organisms to identify and quantify them. Micro-organisms include bacteria, yeasts, moulds, protozoa, algae, parasites and viruses.
They are all around us and can survive under all kinds of conditions. They are also an essential part of our world and have various highly useful functions, a few examples of which are given below:

• Fermentation (production of, for example, beer, wine, cheese, bread and certain sorts of sausage);
• the digestion of food;
• the production of vitamins;
• the degradation of waste.

Unfortunately, however, micro-organisms can also be extremely harmful. Micro-organisms are the cause of many diseases in humans, animals and plants and we call these particular organisms ‘pathogenic organisms’. Many diseases are transmitted from human to human or from animal to human, only a few being transmitted by food. Diseases caused by eating contaminated food are often classified as ‘food poisoning’.
Disease-causing micro-organisms are partly the reason for the strict legislation and the resulting laboratory research carried out on these micro-organisms. The following are among the most harmful bacteria: Bacillus c., Brucella, Campylobacter, Clostridium, E. coli, Listeria m, Salmonella, Staphylococci and Enterococci.

We do not limit our microbiological analysis only to foods, but also carry them out on, for example, breathing air.


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