Conway High School's Food and Nutrition Instructor will be bringing her students some new Food Safety curriculum this year, after being chosen for some prestigious training at the FDA in Washington D.C. this Summer.
Leslee Ann Tell, a teacher at Conway High School, was one of 32 teachers nationwide chosen to complete a food science training program developed and implemented in a partnership between the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), and Graduate School USA. The one-week program for middle and high school science teachers, as well as family and consumer science and health education teachers, took place in Washington this summer.
The training is part of the FDA/NSTA Professional Development Program in Food Science, a sustained effort to train U.S. teachers to use FDA’s curriculum in their classrooms nationwide.
The goal of the program is to educate teachers and students about critical food safety issues such as foodborne illnesses by exploring the science behind them.
Mrs. Tell says she will incorporate the training into all her Food Safety classes, as well as conducting workshops for her colleagues around the state.
The program arms teachers with a unique topic and curriculum with which to teach science.
Participants learn about nutrition, food allergies, cosmetics safety, and color additives from FDA experts.
Teachers also receive nutrition education material to help teach their students how to use the Nutrition Facts label to make better food choices.
“Many teenage students have jobs in the food service industry or have food preparation responsibilities at home,” said Louise Dickerson, FDA’s Project Manager for the Professional Development Program in Food Science. “This program will better educate them about the importance of handling food safely and why precautions must be taken. From FDA’s perspective, our professional development program for teachers is an effective way to support the goal of reducing the incidence of foodborne illness in this country.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 6 Americans get sick from food poisoning each year.
During the training, teacher participants learned firsthand about the development and spread of foodborne illnesses; the vulnerability of at-risk populations; and the science behind safe food handling, storage, and preparation. Teachers also learned how to better use the Nutrition Facts label to assess the nutritional value of foods. In addition, the teachers talked with scientists from FDA and conducted laboratory experiments to further increase their understanding of food science.
Among the topics covered, teachers investigated how a single bacteria cell can multiply to millions in just a few hours, and they observed how different temperatures (heating, room temperature, chilling, and freezing) affect the growth of bacteria. The teachers explored these concepts by putting their culinary skills to the test. After cooking hamburgers to various temperatures, the teachers tested them for bacteria and other organisms that cause disease.
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