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Develop Food Safety Workshop Activities for Teachers/Students and Caregivers to Meet the Changing Demographics of the State

Investigators
Besong, Samuel
Institutions
Delaware State University
Start date
2006
End date
2009
Objective
The overall aim of the project is to prevent foodborne illness among adolescents, and decrease the potential economic burden to families in Kent County, Delaware. The specific objectives of this project are to: 1) Conduct a survey to assess knowledge of basic sanitation and good hygiene practices among teachers, students and caregivers, 2) Develop summer apprenticeship activities for high school students to increase awareness and knowledge on basic sanitation and good hygiene practices, and 3) Develop undergraduate curriculum with emphasis on training food safety specialists.
More information
NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: Introducing topics on food pathogens and food safety practices to students who have no basic knowledge in microbiology could be challenging. The aim of the project is to increase students' knowledge on food safety practices and prevent foodborne illness among adolescents, and decrease the potential economic burden to families in Kent County, Delaware.

APPROACH: Objective 1: Survey high school teachers and students in Kent County to determine their knowledge base on basic sanitation and good hygiene practices. Results from the survey will be used to develop educational and effective delivery methods that can help increase awareness and reduce the knowledge gap among target audiences. Objective 2. Educational materials on basic sanitation and good hygiene practices will be developed for students. Summer learning activities on basic sanitation and good hygiene practices will be conducted. Field trips will be organized to expose students to activities at DSU kitchens, Department of Hospitality and Tourism, Aquaculture facility and slaughter houses, and DE-State Agriculture food safety laboratory. Objective 3. A 3-credit hour undergraduate level course on food safety will be developed. The 3-credit hour course will cover the topics in food safety relating to:Qualitative and Quantitative Risk Assessments, Control Measures for Foodborne Microbial Pathogens, Sources and Incidence of Microbial Pathogens, Antibiotic Resistant Microbial Pathogens, Improving the Safety of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables, Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) Model Development, Testing, and Implementation, Home Food Processing and Preservation, Integrating Food Safety into Related Agricultural Programs, Alternative Food Processing Technologies that Improve the Safety of Food, and Food Security.

PROGRESS: 2007/09 TO 2008/08
OUTPUTS: We recruited 20 high school students from six high schools in Kent County during the summer for the workshop. Students received lectures and laboratory experiences. Lectures covered causes of foodborne illness, symptoms, risk factors, poor food handling practices and good food handling practices, list of common food borne pathogens, proper methods of cooking and storing foods. During the laboratory activities, students learned how to isolate bacteria from food items such as bananas, green peppers, strawberries, chicken, ground beef and hotdogs. Students learned how to grow isolated bacteria on EMB and PEA plates. Students also had an opportunity to conduct a mock food safety inspection. The purpose of the laboratory practice was to show students that there are pathogens in all food items, as such proper food handling practices and cooking methods are essential to prevent foodborne illness. In addition we gave pre-and post survey to students to assess their knowledge on causes of foodborne illness and food safety precautions. We observed from our pre-survey data that 20 percent of students were unaware that foodborne illness can occur at home from improper food handling. We also observed that 10 percent of students were unaware that food can become contaminated with harmful bacteria in the kitchen during handling and storage. The survey also showed that 20 percent of students think that some type of produce do not carry pathogens that cause foodborne illnesses. Data from post-survey and program evaluation showed that student knowledge on pathogens, foodborne illness and ways of preventing foodborne illnesses improved significantly. Students indicated that they plan to share the acquired knowledge about foodborne illness with their parents, family members and friends. To accomplish objective 3, we modified the existing Introduction Nutrition and Advanced Nutrition syllabi to cover topics such as data on foodborne illnesses in the United States, causes of foodborne illness, common symptoms, risk factors, poor food handling practices and good food handling practices, list of common food borne pathogens, proper methods of cooking and storing foods, etc. Sixty students register for the Introduction to Nutrition course and twenty students register for the Advanced Nutrition course annually. We also developed a course titled Principles of HACCP for nutrition students in their senior year and graduate students in Food Science program. The purpose of the course is to enable students understand the principles of HACCP, cGMPS and SSOPs and to identify potential hazard categories (biological, chemical, physical) that pose a threat to foods. The laboratory activities that enabled students to isolate and plate bacteria from different food items helped to increase student knowledge on pathogens that cause foodborne illness and made them to be aware that disease causing pathogens can be found in all produce if poorly handled. The modified Introduction to Nutrition and Advanced Nutrition courses and the new Principle of HACCP course is an important outcome of the project that will help to educate many students beyond the funding period of this project.
PARTICIPANTS: Mr. Celestin Nke Fosung (research scientist)was responsible for developing news letters, brochures, survey instruments (pre- and post-survey), student recruitment, lecture materials and mentoring undergraduate students. He was also responsible for administering questionnaires to middle and high school teachers and administrators. Dr. Samuel Besong, (PI) was responsible for incorporating food safety topics into the existing Introduction to Nutrition and Advanced Nutrition courses. Dr. Besong teaches this courses annually. Dr. Hanna Khouryieh teaches the newly developed HACCP course.
TARGET AUDIENCES: Target audiences are high school students and teachers, Food and nutritional Sciences students, and other undergraduate students who enrolled in the Introduction to Nutrition course.
PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: 1. Conduct a survey to assess knowledge of basic sanitation and hygiene practices among high students and teachers, and Delaware State University students, 2. Develop summer apprenticeship activities for high school students to increase awareness and knowledge on basic sanitation and good hygiene practices, and 3. Develop undergraduate curriculum with emphasis on training food safety specialists .

IMPACT: 2007/09 TO 2008/08
Students who participated in the workshop are more than willing to change the way they handle foods and prepare foods. Students indicated that if they eat out, they will make sure that the food is served at the recommended temperature. DSU students who have completed the Introduction Nutrition, Advanced Nutrition and Principles of HACCP courses are willing to change the way they handle foods and prepare foods. This project has provided knowledge on food safety to students whose course syllabi does not cover topics on food safety and also helped them to increase their knowledge on food safety precautions. Students are aware that food serve in the restaurant must be serve at a recommended temperature. The project appears to have contributed in improving the overall food safety in the US and reduce the potential for foodborne illness because students who completed the summer workshops and courses in nutrition and principles of HACCP were willing to share acquired knowledge in food safety with their parents, relatives and friends.

Funding Source
Nat'l. Inst. of Food and Agriculture
Project source
View this project
Project number
DELX0025-06-4
Accession number
208001
Categories
Bacterial Pathogens
Natural Toxins
Food Defense and Integrity
Commodities
Meat, Poultry, Game
Grains, Beans, Legumes