Food microbiology is the scientific study of microorganisms, both in food and used for the production of food. Food microbiology focuses on the general biology of the microorganisms that are found in foods including: their growth characteristics, identification, and pathogenesis. Specifically, areas of interest which concern food microbiology are food poisoning, food spoilage, food preservation, and food legislation. Pathogens in product, or harmful microorganisms, result in major public health problems worldwide and are the leading causes of illnesses and death. Bacteria are the most important microorganisms to the food processor. Most are harmless, many are highly beneficial, some indicate the probable presence of filth, disease organisms, spoilage and a few cause disease. There are thousands of species of bacteria, but all are single-celled and fall into three basic shapes: spherical, straight rods, and spiral rods. Yeasts are oval-shaped and slightly larger than bacteria. They reproduce most often by budding. In budding each cell can produce several buds, or swellings, which break away to form new, fully formed daughter cells. Molds as found on bread, fruit, damp paper, or other surfaces are actually composed of millions of microscopic cells joined together to form chains. The chains usually have numerous branches, called hyphae. Molds can thrive in conditions too adverse for bacteria or yeasts. They reproduce by spores that are frequently present as green or black masses on the protruding hyphae. Yeasts and molds grow on most foods, on equipment, and building surfaces where there are small amounts of nutrient and moisture. Since bacteria grow faster, they greatly outnumber yeasts and molds in most foods. However, bacteria find conditions of low pH, moisture, or temperature and high salt or sugar unfavorable. In such environments, yeasts or molds predominate. Thus, they can be a problem in dry foods, salted fish, bread, pickles, fruits, jams, jellies, and similar commodities. Microorganisms can cause a variety of effects in food products including spoilage, which primarily affects product quality, and food poisoning, which is generally caused by pathogens. As regulators, we are most concerned with the effects that microorganisms have on food that leads to food borne illness, because this affects public health. A food borne illness (or disease) is exactly what the term indicates - a disease or illness caused by the consumption of contaminated foods or beverages. It would seem rather obvious that a food borne microbial pathogen, or a preformed microbial toxic product, or another poison such as a poisonous chemical that has somehow contaminated the food and/or beverage, leads to one of the many different food borne illnesses. There is no one “syndrome” that is representative of food borne illness/disease. Different diseases have many different symptoms. However, the microbe or toxin enters the body through the gastrointestinal tract, and often causes the first clinical signs such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhea, which are common symptoms in many food borne disease.