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Organization Encourages Schools to Increase Food-Safety Education

Organization Encourages Schools to Increase Food-Safety Education

An organization called the Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention has called upon U.S. schools to increase food-safety education in the classroom.

"Each year, an estimated 48 million Americans contract a foodborne illness, resulting in 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths," according to an article on FoodSafetyNews.com. "Vulnerable populations, including children, seniors, pregnant and postpartum women, and those with compromised immune systems, are at greater risk for foodborne illness."

Lee Faulconbridge, CFI board director, said that "because these populations constitute more than half of the American population, educating them about the risks is really important." Faulconbridge spoke alongside Patricia Buck, CFI's executive director at the 2014 Consumer Food Safety Education Conference in December.

The article said that, "many foodborne pathogens have a disproportionate impact on children younger than 5. The incidence of most foodborne pathogens is highest for this demographic. Some die from these preventable illnesses, and many others suffer lasting health problems such as reactive arthritis, the need for kidney transplants, and seizures."

"According to a fact sheet about young children and foodborne illness released last November by CFI, the Pew Charitable Trusts, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, children face higher risks when exposed to pathogens because their immune systems are less developed and less able to fight infections," the article said. "And, because they have lower body weights, it takes less of a pathogen to cause an illness."

Buck said that "in order to achieve Healthy People 2020 objectives for most foodborne illnesses, the levels of infections in children need to be reduced because they currently have the highest incidence rates," the article said. "And, she added, in order to get this incidence level down, there has to be more food-safety education in schools and community settings."

"The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] conducts the School Health Policies and Practices study every six years," the article said. "The most recent study done in 2012 showed that only half of school districts require teaching about foodborne illness prevention in elementary schools. Just less than 60 percent require the education in middle schools and 64 percent require it in high schools."

Buck and Faulconbridge said that "apart from integrating food safety into the curriculum across math, science, technology, language arts and social studies classes," schools can " highlight food safety in parent-teacher conferences, weekly newsletters, or teacher blogs."

"Schools can also insist on hand-washing and hand sanitizer use, display posters on food safety, and encourage science projects or school-TV segments about food safety. And school gardens can help students understand the nutritional value of food and the need to follow safe food practices, they said," according to FoodSafetyNews.com.

Read the full story and comment below. 

Article by Kassondra Granata, Education World Contributor 

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