Tools for Multi-Taskers
"Making good use of resources is more important today than
ever before," according to Susan Conley, director of food safety
education for the Food Safety and Inspection Service, (FSIS).
"Throughout the world, today's educators are 'multi-tasking.'
Their time is short, their tasks are many, and money is tight."
This conclusion is the result of data analyzed from information provided
by more than 600 educators at the 2002 national conference: Thinking
Globally-Working Locally: A Conference on Food Safety Education.
Food safety educators confirmed that their time is short.
- Over 30 percent of educators spend less than 25 percent of their
time on food safety education, with the remainder devoted to a
variety of other health and education activities.
- About 25 percent devote 25 to 50 percent of their time to food
- Only 15 percent spend 50 to 75 percent of their time on food
Educators also made it clear that money is an issue.
- Twenty percent of educators had annual budgets for food safety
education of less than $5,000.
- Approximately 40 percent had budgets over $25,000.
- Slightly over 10 percent had annual budgets over $1 million-primarily
Many conference educators said they were compensating for time and
money limitations by making good use of partnerships.
Sixty-five percent of educators reported they were members of food
safety partnerships. A significant percentage-38 percent-were organized
at the state level. "There is no question that partnerships are
working and making a difference. They are the one tool we all need,"
For information on partnerships, go to: http://peaches.nal.usda.gov/foodborne/fbindex/
Educators reported their top four goals.
In spite of money and time limitations, food safety educators have
a full "to do" list. Their top four goals were:
- training for food service,
- teaching handwashing,
- educating children/using Fight BAC!® messages, and
- educating people about specific pathogens.
Under Secretary of Food Safety Dr. Elsa A. Murano has pledged her
committment to helping food safety educators throughout the country
and supporting them in meeting their goals.
As a result, the FSIS education staff teamed with the USDA/FDA Foodborne
Illness Education Information Center to identify key educational programs
to help educators reach their goals. This special issue of The
Food Safety Educator profiles these programs.
In reviewing educational programs, Conley said, "there are wonderful
education tools out there. They're interactive, they're dynamic, and
they make learning fun. As readers will see, there is also room for
new work. Educational programs need to change as our audiences change,
circumstances change-and as science sheds more light on foodborne
Help for Educators
To help educators link to resources mentioned in this issue, as well
as additional resources, the USDA/FDA Foodborne Illness Education
Information Center has developed The Food Safety Educator's Companion
Web Page at: http://www.nal.usda.gov/foodborne/
Food Service Food Safety
Training for food service employees was selected as the highest priority
goal by the national conference educators.
Over 52 percent of attendees indicated that food service workers were
their first or second highest priority target audience. Many educators
noted that they needed multi-cultural training programs for entry-level
DEMAND FOR FOOD SERVICE TRAINING GROWS
There are many good reasons why training for the food service industry
is a high priority, according to Angie Fraser, associate professor
at North Carolina State University.
Fraser has recently launched a new Web site, http://www.foodsafetysite.com,
specifically targeting educators who work with food service workers
in North Carolina.
This site provides educators with activities for training programs,
practice tests, fact sheets, and links to other sites.
"Part of the new demand for training," Fraser noted,
"is generated by the fact that more and more states are requiring
food service certification but not all of them have the resources
to provide the training."
Fraser points out that many restaurants are small, independent operations
(also known as mom and pop establishments) and not part of a franchised
chain. Chain restaurants are more likely to have access to in-house
resources and staff to conduct food safety training. Small independents
are less likely to have access to these resources, Fraser said.
As a result, she said, "they need training that is available
at the local level. In North Carolina, many counties offer this training
as a joint effort between environmental health specialists from the
local health department and cooperative extension educators. The benefit
of training at the local level is that it is less expensive and enables
the food service operators to access local resources, such as the
county extension center. It also enables them to see their inspector
in a different role."
In addition, Fraser pointed out, today's educators are looking for
training that "takes education to a new level. Instead of just
providing facts on the page-or screen-they are looking for materials
that are interactive."
In order for training programs to affect behavior change, educators
need to move away from just pure lecture, according to Fraser. They
need to incorporate exercises, activities, and demonstrations into
their training programs.
"Program participants need a chance to apply what they are
learning so that they feel more confident going back to the work place
and making changes," Fraser said.
MEETING THE NEEDS OF ENTRY-LEVEL EMPLOYEES
While a number of certification and training programs are available
for food service managers (http://www.fstea.org/resources/certify.html),
programs for entry-level employees are more limited.
A good starting point for those looking for training materials is
Taking Care of Business, Resources for Retail and Foodservice
The publication provides links to some of the major national organizations,
which are a valuable source of training materials.
TRAINING MATERIAL HIGHLIGHTS
The Food Safety Training
and Education Alliance (FSTEA), http://www.fstea.org: This
is a "must-visit" Web site, according to Cindy Roberts of
the USDA/FDA Foodborne Illness Education Information Center.
"FSTEA is a key clearinghouse for training materials for
food service. The Web site also provides a direct link to the Food
and Drug Administration's Food Code, as well as state and
local regulations and codes.
"To help in training employees, there are foreign language
signs and posters, information on state-approved training programs,
and sources of food safety education funding," Roberts said.
The USDA/FDA Foodborne Illness Education Information
Center, http://www.nal.usda.gov/foodborne: The Center's database
lists hundreds of training tools and educational programs, including
a special database for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point
Many programs are available through the Center's Web site, or contact
information is provided.
One particularly useful tool for multi-cultural audiences, Roberts
noted, is the Handwashing for Life Video ($40). "The
video crosses language barriers by using imagery and sound. It's very
good and very effective," she said.
The Center is also an especially rich resource for foreign language
materials, Roberts noted: http://peaches.nal.usda.gov/foodborne/fbindex/
"You'll find tons in Spanish and a good number in Chinese,
Vietnamese, and Russian," she said.
But the Center also has resources in less familiar languages, including
Bengali, Hmong, Punjabi, Urdu, and Tagalog.
The National Environmental Health Association (NEHA),
NEHA has resources that are targeted to food handlers, as well as
A key tool for entry-level employees is Food Safety First Principles,
a 49-page, full-color book that provides food handlers access to essential
knowledge and understanding of fundamental food safety practices that
they need to carry out their work safely. The book, which costs $9.50,
is noted as a tool for employees to use in meeting state or local
employee training requirements.
NEHA also offers a Trainer Resource pack that includes an
Activity Book with 36 participatory exercises for student groups or
individual students, including hazard-spotting exercises, case studies,
word searches, quizzes, crosswords, picture matching, and HACCP plan
Also of interest from NEHA is a special Web page that provides reviews
of training materials, noting their pros and cons-and most importantly-their
adherence to the FDA Food Code.
Educational Foundation of the National Restaurant Association
The NRA is the originator of ServeSafe®, a benchmark
training program used by educators nationwide. The Education Foundation
Web site provides links to training resources for managers as well
as food handlers, an online course for manager certification, scholarship
and mentoring programs for high school students, and information on
state restaurant associations and regulatory requirements.
The Food Marketing Institute (FMI), http://fmi.org/foodsafety/:
For employees in supermarkets, FMI offers SuperSafeMark®,
a safety and sanitation training program. It is based on supermarket-specific
job analysis and is designed for everyone from new hires to managers
International Association for Food Protection, http://www.foodprotection.org:
This organization has produced International Food Safety Icons. These
11 "wordless" icons symbolize a variety of food safety "do's
LEARNING FROM A LOCAL PROGRAM
Public Health of Seattle
& King County, Washington, has had requirements for food
worker training and certification since the 1950's.
As a result, they have some hands-on Web-based materials. Go to: http://www.metrokc.gov/health/
and click on "Food Safety."
The site's resources include:
- Food Safety Basics for Working Healthy: This 17-page
manual is available online or it can be ordered for $1.50 a copy.
It is available in seven languages: English, Chinese, Russian,
Korean, Tagalog, Vietnamese, and Spanish.
- Food Safety, You Make A Difference: This package includes
two videos ($25 a piece). Both are available in all seven languages.
One 7-minute video illustrates the importance of when to wash
hands and the use of gloves, tongs, etc. A second 30-minute video
covers food safety basics such as preventing cross-contamination,
food temperatures, and sanitizing. They can be ordered or downloaded
from the Web site, or e-mail: email@example.com.
- A Mock Inspection: Available through the Seattle &
King County Web site, this page lets restaurants do a "dry
run" and see exactly what inspectors will be looking for.
OTHER PROGRAMS OF INTEREST
Cooperative extension and public health are working hard to meet training
needs of food handlers, as well as food managers.
With a focus on "What Inspectors Need You to Know," some
innovative training is available in Kansas through the Focus on
Food Safety Toolkit developed by the Kansas Department
of Health and Environment. It is available at: http://www.kdhe.state.ks.us/fofs
Free training programs for food service employees are sponsored by
the Kansas Department of Health and Environment in partnership with
restaurants such as Hanover Pancake House.
Oregon's Department of Environmental Health
has developed an online Food Safety Training Manual to help
food service employees train themselves and meet state certification
In addition to English, the Manual is available in Spanish, Vietnamese,
Chinese, Russian, and Korean. Go to: http://www.ohd.hr.state.or.us
Food Safety Works, produced by Colorado State
University, is a more traditional program, utilizing a trainer
and classroom setting with many interactive training activities. It
covers all the basics: personal hygiene, preventing cross-contamination,
preparing/serving food safely (including the 2001 FDA Food Code
temperatures), and cleaning/sanitizing. Training may be conducted
in 1 to 3 hours.
Materials are available in English, Spanish, or Chinese.
Leader materials may be downloaded free from the Web site or purchased
on CD-ROM or hard copy for $20.00 each, plus shipping. Participant
handbooks may be downloaded from the Web site or purchased ready-made
in any quantity desired for $3.50 each, plus shipping. Materials include
a 10-minute video, instructor outline, master activity forms, master
participant handbook, two evaluation components, and a sample participant
certificate of completion. Go to: http://www.colostate.edu/orgs/safefood
Food Safety and Sanitation: A Distance Education Course
has been developed by the University of Connecticut.
The comprehensive course is available for $95 in English, Spanish,
The course comes on a CD-ROM. The user also receives an accompanying
interactive Internet component with personal access to instructors
and others taking the course. Each lesson also comes with an audio
component, which can be turned on or off. Go to: http://www.team.uconn.edu/foodsafety_course
The Food Safety Toolkit, developed by Purdue University,
has a focus on HACCP and includes a presentation called "Is There
HACCP in the House? Training Your Staff to Get Involved." The
Toolkit also offers activities related to handwashing, using
food thermometers, sanitation, and HACCP. Go to: http://www.cfs.purdue.edu/RHIT/foodsafety/
A GOOD COMMERCIAL PROGRAM
One very useful tool for multi-cultural/low-literacy audiences is
a wordless video, "Great Food, Safe Food," produced by Marriott,
Inc. The completely wordless program is specifically designed to meet
the needs of an international workforce. It teaches the essentials
of food safety via an animated video and pictorial workbook. For ordering
information, call (703) 245-9860.
FOR A "BOOK" IN HAND
For folks who like their information "honed down" to the
essentials, check out the 22-page pocket-size guide on the FDA Food
Code. Produced by the Food Marketing Institute, it is-amazingly-both
concise and comprehensive. It's only $5. To order, go to: http://www.fmi.org
or call (202) 452-8444.
For more resources, go to The Food Safety Educator's Companion
Web Page: http://www.nal.usda.gov/foodborne/FoodSafetyEducator/
More Training Requirements
A study conducted by the Food Policy Institute at Rutgers University
found that 16 states have state-mandated food safety certification
requirements for restaurants. Thirty-four states have some kind of
voluntary food safety certification program.
To read more, go to: http://www.foodpolicyinstitute.org/publications.html
Training for School Food Service
A wide variety of food safety education training materials are available
for school food service personnel.
USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has partnered with the Food
Safety and Inspection Service to distribute training materials from
the Fight BAC!® campaign, as well as the campaign to increase
the use of food thermometers (Thermy™).
The outreach has been significant. For instance, more than 700,000
copies of a laminated pocket card featuring the Fight BAC!® messages
have been distributed to schools and child care centers. The card
can be used as a training tool and also a daily reminder of basic,
safe-food preparation techniques.
Many other training programs have been developed with the specific
needs of schools in mind by FNS in conjunction with the National Food
Service Management Institute (NFSMI).
NSFMI provides a multitude of resources for school food service/child
nutrition professionals. Resources include Web-based teleconferences,publications,
and educational programs, many of which can be used throughout the
school community. Go to: http://www.nfsmi.org
and click on Resource Guide. (Many of the Web resources are available
at no charge.)
FNS and NFSMI have developed and distributed several key training
resources developed for schools:
Food Safety Mini-posters in English and Spanish: Fourteen
food safety posters address handwashing, cross-contamination, temperature
danger zone, and other food safety topics. Go to: http://www.nfsmi.org/Information/postindx.htm
Serving It Safe: 2nd Edition: First
distributed in 1996, this resource has been revised to reflect the
2001 Food Code. The program includes a manual, leader guide,
and poster. The American School Food Service Association uses Serving
It Safe for certification and specialized training. Go to: http://www.nfsmi.org/Information/sisindex.html
Manager's Self-Inspection Tear-off Tablet: Many
managers wonder how to implement HACCP in their own school kitchens.
This tear-off tablet includes check points that correspond to HACCP
principles. It's designed to be used once a week to identify areas
requiring corrective action.
HACCP in Recipes: Critical control points (CCPs)
have been added to USDA's Quantity Recipes for School Food Service
and A Tool Kit for Healthy School Meals. These recipes are
also currently available on the Internet: http://www.nfsmi.org/Information/
Instructor Network and Training Materials: Responding
to interest in HACCP, the NFSMI developed training materials on HACCP
as well as created a national network of food safety/HACCP instructors.
The training materials include an instructor's manual, a CD-ROM with
presentations and forms, a video, and participant manuals for food
service directors and employees.
Over 300 instructors from 48 states have attended the orientation
held at NFSMI. Instructor materials are provided at the orientation;
participant materials are available for purchase from NFSMI.
In the Works for School Food Service
The National Food Service Management Institute is currently working
on a number of innovative food safety projects.
AVAILABLE IN 2004
Handwashing: NSFMI has teamed
with other partners to produce an educational resource kit for child
nutrition professionals to use throughout the school community. The
teaching package will include a wordless video, activities, and instructional
materials. The resource is due to be available in late 2004.
Food Safety Standard Operating Procedures: This
Web-based project will allow individuals to generate customized standard
operating procedures (SOPs) for their facility. This tool will assist
school food service directors and managers in overcoming documentation
challenges and help optimize the way information and technology work
together. Examples of food safety SOPs will begin to appear on the
NFSMI Web site in late 2004.
Serving It Safe: 2nd Edition: The leader
guide and reference manual will be translated into Spanish.
Serving It Safe Interactive CD-ROM:
This will support the information included in Serving It Safe
and will contain creative interactive activities.
AVAILABLE IN 2005
Thermometer Information Resource Kit:
The manual will have four chapters: thermometer use and tools
of the trade, purchasing thermometers, calibrating thermometers, and
Each lesson will be coordinated with a video segment to reinforce
key concepts in the lessons. The complete package will include a manual,
time and temperature charts, temperature log templates, a video, and
a CD-ROM that contains all print material in PDF format.
Taking Food Safety Beyond
the School Cafeteria
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in cooperative
with the National Coalition for Food Safe Schools, has developed a
new program to teach food safety to the entire school community.
The Food Safe Schools Action Guide has educational components
for everyone-administrators, teachers, nurses, students, and school
According to David Delozier of CDC, "we saw this as an opportunity
to make food safety part of the whole learning environment in schools.
"The Action Guide is unique because it demonstrates
how everyone in the school community has a role in food safety.
"It is also unique because it gives schools the ability
to assess their own problems, and come up with their own solutions."
The Food Safe Schools Action Guide has been pilot tested
and been extremely successful, Delozier reports.
"In fact,word-of-mouth interest has been so great, we've
generated 'buzz.' People are waiting with bated breath for the program's
release. They are geared up and ready to go," he said.
The Action Guide will be available in late 2004 through the
National Coalition for Food Safe Schools Web site: http://foodsafeschools.org
The Web site serves as a one-stop gateway to Internet-based school
food safety information and resources. Information is provided for
children, parents, educators, school nurses, administrators, local
health departments, and school food service staff.
Our mothers always told us "Wash your hands!"
Now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the
Soap and Detergent Association (SDA) have joined forces to help us
pay more attention to mom's advice.
According to CDC, the single most important thing we can do to keep
from getting sick and spreading illness is to wash our hands.
The problem is–we just don't do it. According to one study,
only 58 percent of girls and 48 percent of boys in middle and high
schools wash their hands after using the bathroom.
And of those who did wash, only 33 percent of the girls and
8 percent of the boys used soap! What's a mother, or a school, to
There are a lot of reasons why kids in schools don't wash hands:
But, obstacles are there to be overcome–or gone around. The
question was, how?
- sinks don't work,
- no soap or paper towels,
- no time in the school day to wash before meals, and
- vandalism in the washrooms.
CREATING A PROGRAM
The answer that CDC and SDA came up with was simple in concept-shine
a light on the problem and then motivate and reward the students for
To do this, CDC and the SDA developed a program called It's a
SNAP-School Network for Absenteeism Prevention. According to
Erica Odom, of CDC, the SNAP program "relies on the creativity
of students and staff to prioritize and promote clean hands throughout
the school environment. CDC and SDA created a toolkit to provide students
and school staff with information on why hand hygiene is important,
offer some solutions-and task them to create their own clean hands
The SNAP program is now entering its third year–and it's making
an impact throughout the country. Middle schools across the nation
have adopted the program, which integrates national standards-based
education about handwashing into existing curriculums, including math,
science, social studies, and language arts.
According to Nancy Bock with SDA, the SNAP program "is a win-win
for the entire school community. It motivates students to create projects
that will keep them healthy and in school and learning."
In the science portion of the curriculum, kids conduct a "germ
investigation." They swab commonly touched surfaces like doorknobs,
water fountains, bathroom sinks, cafeteria tables, and classroom materials.
Then they use agar plates to cultivate the bacteria.
But that's just the start. Once they see where the "bugs"
are, then they need to figure out how to get rid of them!
A LITTLE "YUCK" GOES A LONG WAY
In 2003, Goodrich Middle School in Lincoln, Nebraska, received the
first National Recognition award for its SNAP campaign.
Seventh grade science students at Goodrich became very interested
in the SNAP project, especially after they had seen the live cultures
of handborne "yuck" they had collected from around the school.
They were motivated to change things and they got people's attention:
"Want to see something gross?" they asked their classmates
and school community.
They developed a school-wide campaign to raise awareness. The students
developed vibrant posters in a variety of languages: English, Spanish,
Serbo-Croatian, Vietnamese, and Arabic. They didn't want anyone to
miss this message.
They did a presentation on germs and how to get rid of them. They
posted "germ facts" on bathroom walls and developed eye-catching
With the support of the school principal, they even put a new hand
hygiene station in the cafeteria.
Now, among the seventh graders, nearly 100 percent wash hands, according
to school principal Bess Scott.
The SNAP program materials can be downloaded from: http://www.itsasnap.org
For more resources, go to The Food Safety Educator's Companion
Web Page: http://www.nal.usda.gov/foodborne/FoodSafetyEducator/
Or go to: http://peaches.nal.usda.gov/foodborne/fbindex/
Numerous handwashing campaigns have been developed and new initiatives
utilizing new research are currently being developed. So stay tuned
Here are some links you'll find through the Web pages:
- Clean Hands Campaign, from the American Society for
- Hand Hygiene in Retail and Food Service Establishments,
from the Food and Drug Administration.
Just for Kids
For years, experts have agreed that the best way to teach consumers
about safe food handling was to start with the kids.
TAKING IT TO THE KIDS
The USDA Food Safety Mobile was launched in 2003 to take food safety
education to towns and communities throughout America.
According to Susan Conley, "Traveling with the USDA Food Safety
Mobile, we've seen first hand what great learners kids can be.
"When we start teaching kids visiting the Mobile, they are generally
all hanging back. But as we talk, they keep inching forward. By the
time we start quizzing them on what we've taught, they are right on
top of us, jumping and shouting, holding up their hands!"
In response to the children's enthusiasm, the staff traveling with
the USDA Food Safety Mobile developed an interactive game to play
with kids: The USDA Food Safety Mobile Game. A wheel spins and lands
on a question. The kids shout out the answers and win educational
Another new tool is the USDA Food Safety Mobile Coloring Book.
"Kids love the USDA Food Safety Mobile," Conley
said. "It's so colorful and fun. With the book, they can color
in the icons depicted on the Mobile: clean, separate, cook, and chill.
And while they color, they learn!"
The USDA Food Safety Mobile Game, Coloring Book, and other
tools for kids are available by going to the Web site: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/foodsafetymobile/
At this site, kids can also track the Mobile's travels and see when
it is coming to their community.
EXTENDING OUR REACH
"In addition to using innovative programs,
like mobile marketing," Conley said, "we are also using
mass media–including public service announcements (PSAs). We've
found that they work for us and I'm convinced that they can work for
local educators as well."
FSIS developed a new PSA in 2003 featuring former Miss America Heather
Whitestone McCallum talking about safe food handling with her own
children and others in a child care setting.
"It's a fabulous PSA. It's perfect for kids as well as their
parents. And we are making it available for free to educators throughout
the country. In the first 3 months of its release, it was broadcast
more than 14,000 times. In fact, in January of 2004, it was in the
top 3 percent of all PSAs aired in the country," Conley said.
Educators can request a copy by e-mailing: FSIS.Outreach@usda.gov.
KEY PROGRAMS FOR KIDS
One of the advantages of traveling with the USDA Food Safety Mobile
is that it has brought federal educators in contact with partners
throughout the country.
Educators are sharing how they are using key programs for kids, as
well as the new programs they are working on. There is no question
that today's educators are breaking new ground making learning fun
and integrating food safety lessons with standards of learning.
So, what are some key tools?
PROVEN WINNERS FOR KIDS IN K THROUGH THIRD GRADE
Kids Fight BAC!® is an award-winning program developed
by the University of Georgia. It comes with a teaching guide, activity
book, an animated video, and a story book. The complete package is
only $40. For more information, go to: http://www.fcs.uga.edu/extension/fightbac.pdf.
The Partnership for Food Safety Education has produced Fight
BAC!® Presenter's Guide. It comes with a teaching
guide and activities for young children. It can be downloaded for
free at: http://www.fightbac.org/grades_K_3.cfm
FOR KIDS IN FOURTH THROUGH SIXTH GRADES
BAC!®: Your Game Plan for Food Safety was also developed
by the Partnership for Food Safety Education. This curriculum package
has been enormously popular. Since its 1999 release, more than 30,000
copies have been distributed.
The kit includes an award-winning video, teacher's activity and experiment
guide, color poster, and a game. It can be downloaded from: http://www.fightbac.org/grades_4_8.cfm
FOR MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOL CHILDREN
Science and Our
Food Supply was developed jointly by the Food and Drug
Administration and the National Science Teachers Association. This
is another award-winning program that features an action-packed, suspenseful
video, curriculum guides for middle and high school teachers, and
the comprehensive "Food Safety A to Z Reference Guide."
Its content is geared to the national science education standards.
It's free to science teachers. Ordering information can be found at:
FOR KIDS AT HOME AND IN AFTER-SCHOOL PROGRAMS
was developed under a cooperative extension grant. It offers games
and activities kids can use on their own.
Thermy™ For Kids Web page is part of the FSIS campaign to encourage
the use of food thermometers. Thorough cooking is one of the most
important safe food handling messages. The Web page includes fun materials,
like coloring pages and puzzles. They are available in Spanish, as
well as English. Go to: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/food_safety_education/
For more resources, go to The Food Safety Educator's Companion Web
In the Works for Kids
A number of exciting projects for kids are in the works.
Many are being developed under grants from USDA's Cooperative State
Research, Education, and Extension Service by educators who have developed
some of the key programs already in use. For instance:
Judy Harrison, from the University of Georgia, is
finishing a 3-year project to develop computer games for children
in kindergarten through third grade. The games are based on the Smart
Kids Fight BAC!® program, which Harrison also developed.
The games teach food safety, but also science, math, and language
In testing, Harrison found the games so popular, "we literally
had to take the mouse away from them–the kids just wanted to
Estimated release date: Fall 2004.
Barbara Chamberlin, from New Mexico State University,
is one of the developers of fooddetectives.com. She is partnering
with others to develop a Fight BAC!® Interactive Project
for fourth and fifth graders.
According to Chamberlin, the program builds on their experiences with
fooddetectives.com, as well as research concerning how children
The program is also being developed with a goal of reaching minority
audiences. Materials will be available in Spanish and English, and
some materials will be available in Navajo.
Estimated release date: Fall 2004.
Janet Anderson, from Utah State University, is working
with the Partnership for Food Safety Education and others to develop
computer simulation programs to teach children the science
underlying the Fight BAC!® recommendations. Featuring a character
named Alex Montero, the computer simulations will delve deeply into
the world of bacteria, via animations.
The program will include classroom activities and group projects.
It will be available through the Fight BAC!® Web site.
Estimated release date: September 2005.
Taking Care of Baby
Epidemiologists and educators are focusing new attention on safe food
handling and infants.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that
infants and very young children have the highest incidence of foodborne
illness. Children under 1 year old have dramatically higher rates
of illness from Salmonella.
As a result, CDC has initiated case control studies to better understand
causes and preventions.
Educators nationwide are also more aware of the importance of safe
food handling for babies.
Survey results from more than 200 directors of the Women, Infants,
and Children (WIC) program confirmed that they are looking for safe
food handling information for their clients.
The survey, conducted by Texas Woman's University, found that the
highest priority topics for food safety education were:
- handwashing, noted by 81 percent of respondents;
- infant formula handling, noted by 80 percent of respondents;
- leftover baby food, 68 percent of respondents;
- cross-contamination, 63 percent of respondents; and
- food preparation practices, 57 percent of respondents.
RESOURCES FOR EDUCATORS
The Food and Nutrition Service, which administers the WIC program,
has compiled a special Web page that provides resources that address
many of the topics noted by WIC directors.
They can be found through:
Click on "Food Safety" under "Topics A to Z,"
or search the database.
In addition, for educators working with parents, there are a number
of useful resources:
Food Safety for Moms-to-Be: This new
program developed by the Food and Drug Administration revolves around
an information-packed Web site developed specifically for women who
are pregnant or considering pregnancy.
It covers how mothers-to-be can avoid foodborne illness that might
affect them or their unborn child. And, it is a rich resource concerning
safe food handling after the child's birth. Estimated release date:
Fall 2004. Go to: http://www.foodsafety.gov/~dms/fs-toc.html
Food Safety for Families: Produced
by Texas Woman's University, this videotape, in English and Spanish,
focuses on the basics of food safety for families. And it includes
special sections covering safe handling of breast milk, infant formula,
and baby food. The package also comes with a CD with background information,
including food safety lesson plans, games, and activities.
A single videotape costs $15 and the CD is $3. Call (940) 898-2637
to place an order.
Handle with Care: Keeping Your Child's Formula, Expressed
Breast Milk, and Food Germ-Free: Developed by Rutgers
Cooperative Extension, this curriculum program includes two behaviorally
focused lessons and activity sheets for groups or one-on-one counseling,
multi-cultural fact sheets, and color posters. All components stress
the Fight BAC!® messages. Go to: http://www.rce.rutgers.edu/handlewithcare/default.asp
The Food and Nutrition Service, which administers the Child and Adult
Care Food Programs, has also compiled resources for child care.
These can be accessed on the Web at: http://www.nal.usda.gov/childcare/Safety/index.html
Some examples from this site include:
Child Care Fight
BAC!® poster (in Spanish and English)
Keeping Kids Safe, A Guide for Safe Food Handling
and Sanitation for Child Care Providers: Originally
developed by the Food Safety and Inspection Service, this 24-page
publication covers safe handling of baby bottles, breast milk, and
baby food, Child Care as well as special issues, such as safe diapering.
It also provides instruction on the basics of safe food handling.
Some key tools from the National Food Service Management Institute,
Safe Food for Healthy Children: This
is a workshop guide for individuals working with young children in
group child care settings.
It addresses sanitation and food safety concerns and includes a workshop
trainer's guide, two videotapes, and a "sanitation pack"
with a chef's thermometer. Cost: $37.75.
Also of interest: New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension
has developed a unique program called Home Child Care
Providers' Food Safety Program. This program targets
Spanish-speaking home child care providers. It includes a 33-minute
telenovela-style video and a bilingual book. It is designed to be
presented in a 1- or 2- hour workshop. It includes information on
safe diaper changing and safe handling of bottles and baby food. It
can be purchased through http://www.leadingobject.com
For more resources, go to The Food Safety Educator's Companion Web
Food safety educators are always looking for the latest information
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the best source.
Go to: http://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety
This Web page provides a wide variety of links with information on
pathogens, as well as much more. Some examples:
- diseases and pathogens,
- environmental hazards,
- foods and high-risk groups,
- environmental hazards,
- outbreak investigations, and
- food safety image library.
Pathogens and People
The key safe food handling messages-clean, separate, cook, and chill-have
become almost rote messages. We hear them. But what do they really
mean? How do these different behaviors relate to illnesses caused
by foodborne pathogens? And what lessons might that hold for educators?
Val Hillers, an extension specialist from Washington State University,
and a team of others from different universities, decided to tackle
In a 2003 article in the Journal of Food Protection (Vol.
66, No. 10, 2003, Pages 1893-1899), the authors detail additional
insights to their previously published research concerning the relationship
between consumer behaviors and foodborne illness.
Hillers and her colleagues utilized a panel of nationally recognized
experts to rank the relationship between food handling and consumption
behaviors and 13 major foodborne pathogens.
Food safety education can be a difficult task, according to Hillers.
The time available for food safety education is usually limited. Frequently,
educators are hampered because people think they already know how
to protect themselves from foodborne illness. In addition, to follow
all the guidelines from experts, many different behaviors must be
But which behaviors are the most important? The rankings from the
expert panel provide a framework for educators to use in determining
the focus of their educational programs.
Their key finding: using a food thermometer to cook foods adequately
was ranked of primary importance in preventing illness from significant,
and potentially deadly, pathogens: Salmonella, E. coli
O157:H7, and Toxoplasma gondii.
Among foodborne pathogens, Salmonella is the leading cause
of death. E. coli O157:H7 can cause devastating illness,
especially among young children. Toxoplasma gondii can have
significant impact on pregnant women, causing spontaneous abortion
and birth defects.
The expert panel also ranked using a food thermometer of primary importance
in preventing illness from less serious, but widespread, pathogens
such as Campylobacter jejuni and Yersinia enterocolitica.
Avoiding cross-contamination was identified as being of secondary
importance for most of these same pathogens.
The article notes that preventing illness from some pathogens-such
as E. coli and Salmonella-can be complex.
"Food safety educators face the same dilemma the expert
panel faced because they must decide how much attention should be
focused on infrequent but very risky behaviors, and how much should
be focused on less risky, more prevalent behaviors," according
to Hiller's article.
[Editor's note: For food thermometer resources, go to: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/thermy]
New Research, New Needs, New
Tools & Programs
New research and new educational programs constantly reshape the scene
for food safety educators. To stay informed, the first "go-to"
site is http://www.foodsafety.gov
You'll find breaking news, resources, and links to all other key Web
And now there is an entirely new–and user-friendly–Web
site from the Food Safety and Inspection Service: http://www.fsis.usda.gov
Some other good sites to add to your "favorites":
Kansas State Research and Extension has a great Web site for keeping
in touch with a wide variety of foodborne illness issues: http://www.oznet.ksu.edu/foodsafety/welcome.htm
The site provides links to diverse subjects, including the latest
publications from key national organizations. Other topics include
programs targeted to special populations and information keyed to
specific foods and special circumstances, such as power outages.
Another great site is run by the Food Safety Project, Iowa State University
This site's front page includes a daily summary of news stories related
to food safety as well as an index of links to resources.
Summing Up–Tools We Could
After reviewing tools that are available to educators, Susan Conley,
director of food safety education for FSIS, and Cindy Roberts of the
USDA/FDA Foodborne Illness Education Information Center, agree that
some critical gaps still face food safety educators searching for
educational tools. They encourage educators to consider these needs
when submitting future grant proposals.
Training programs for entry-level food service:
"While there are a lot of tools for food service," Roberts
said, "there is still a need for programs entry-level employees
can use on their own. These programs should be entertaining and interactive
so that employees can apply what they learn."
Educational materials for parents of children under 10:
"Given that one-third of foodborne illnesses occur in children
under the age of 10," Conley said, "I think we could do
more to help parents be aware of this fact.
"In addition, consumer studies show that parents are overconfident.
They think they are taking the steps they need to take to
keep children safe, when, in fact, they are not. We need to help them
question their own competencies.
"Finally, we need to help them see exactly how
to follow the key safe food handling messages-and how to deal with
special issues such as diaper changing, handling of baby food, formula,
and breast milk."
At-risk audiences: "While materials for
at-risk audiences are not specifically addressed in this issue,"
Conley noted, "new epidemiological and consumer research is telling
us more about the educational needs of these most vulnerable groups:
the very young; the very old; and people with immune systems weakened
from a variety of factors including chemotherapy, organ transplant,
liver disease, and even diabetes.
"We need to keep focused on these groups, because they are
more likely to get sick–and once they are sick, the health consequences
are very serious," Conley said.
March 12, 2008
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