Qualitative and quantitative aspects of bacterial challenges that might be encountered in food are discussed with reference to recognized and relatively unrecognized hazards. Mechanisms of pathogenicity are reviewed and the populations at risk are noted. The bacterial content of food as it is served at table merits more study. The challenge of prevention by education is discussed. Indirect bacterial challenges in our food are considered. The real challenge of diagnosis depends upon an awareness of a complex range of conditions; the importance of effective communication with efficient laboratory and epidemiological services is stressed. There is an increasing need for care in the preparation and distribution of food.
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