Teaching microbiological food safety through case studies

Florence Dubois-Brissonnet, Laurent Guillier, Murielle Naïtali


Higher education students usually ask for more training based on case studies. This was addressed by designing a specific food safety module (24 hours) in which students were shown how to predict microbiological risks in food products i.e. they were asked to determine product shelf-life according to product formulation, preservation methods and consumption habits using predictive microbiology tools. Working groups of four students first identified the main microbiological hazards associated with a specific product. To perform this task, they were given several documents including guides for good hygiene practices, reviews on microbiological hazards in the food sector, flow sheets, etc…  After three-hours of work, the working groups prepared and gave an oral presentation in front of their classmates and professors. This raised comments and discussion that allowed students to adjust their conclusions before beginning the next step of their work. This second step consisted in the evaluation of the safety risk associated with the two major microbiological hazards of the product studied, using predictive microbiology. Students then attended a general lecture on the different tools of predictive microbiology and tutorials (6 hours) that made them familiar with the modelling of bacterial growth or inactivation. They applied these tools (9 hours) to predict the shelf-life of the studied product according to various scenarios of preservation (refrigeration, water activity, concentration of salt or acid, modified atmosphere, etc…) and/or consumption procedures (cooking). The module was concluded by oral presentations of each working group and included student evaluation (3 hours).


case studies; food safety; predictive microbiology

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