Can I avoid all contact with bacteria if I’m careful?

By Susan Brewer, Ph.D., University of Illinois,
Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition

No, nor would you want to.  Some bacteria perform important functions for our health.  Bacteria that live in our gastrointestinal track break down substances that our own enzymes can’t (soluble fiber), making their nutrients available to us.  Some synthesize compounds that we can’t and don’t get from our foods (Vitamin K).  And some “adjust” the environment, keeping detrimental bacteria from taking over (for example, lactic-acid-producing bacteria that lower the pH).
Kendall, P. 2008.  “Bacterial food-borne illness.”  Cooperative Extension Service. Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO.  Fact sheet No. 9.300.
U.S.D.A. Food Safety and Inspection Service. 2006. “Basics for Handling Food Safely.”
Jay, J.M. 2000. Modern Food Microbiology. Gaithersburg, MD: Aspen Publishers 


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