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Bacteria are single-celled microorganisms, that serve many functions.

Most bacteria are very useful. Some strains of bacteria are part of our natural digestion others help us produce foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, vinegar and alcoholic beverages. In nature, bacteria also help fix nitrogen in the soil and is responsible for returning nutrients back to the soil by decomposing organic materials. Some bacteria, can cause food to spoil by producing changes in the food as they grow. Examples would be sour milk, or wine turning into vinegar. A very few types of bacteria are pathogenic, meaning that they produce diseases in humans, animals or plants.  

Pathogenic bacteria are one of the most common causes of food borne illness. One single bacteria cell, given the right conditions, can multiply into 281 billion cells in three days. With some bacteria, like Shigella, as few as 100 bacteria cells can make a person sick. Normally, more cells are needed though, which is why bacteriological food borne illness is typically not experienced until 12 - 72 hours, or more after eating contaminated food. The bacteria colony needs time to grow large enough to make you sick. Approximately 60% of food borne illness is caused by unknown sources.






The main bacteriological threats (alphabetically) are Campylobacter, Clostridium Botulinum, Clostridium Perfringens, E. Coli, Listeria, Salmonella, Shigella, Staphylococcus, and Streptococcus.