Food Safety and Nutrition

The goal of the outbreak investigation is to find the source of the contamination Investigation!
The second of two web seminars on the topic of Food Safety and Nutrition was held on Thursday, January 18, 2007, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time. The presenter was Sherri McGarry, Foodborne Outbreak Coordinator on the Emergency Coordination and Response Staff in the Office of Compliance, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The presentation focused on the work of scientists at the FDA as it relates to outbreak investigations.

Forty-one (41) participants were present in addition to the presenter and the NSTA staff. Participating educators represented the states of Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

In this presentation educators had the opportunity to learn about outbreak investigations. The Center for Disease Control estimates that in 1999 there were 76 million foodborne illnesses in the United States. This number shows that foodborne illnesses area a serious problem in our country. The most common causes of foodborne outbreaks are ill workers who do not follow proper personal hygiene requirements. Food scientists study pathogens and how they affect different species FDA scientists fighting foodborne outbreaks follow investigative procedures analogous to solving a crime. Once the foodborne outbreak is identified, the food scientists do epidemiological investigations, laboratory analysis, environmental investigations, trace backs and trace forwards, and farm investigations. Their goal is to find the source of the outbreak and remove the product from distribution as quickly as possible to avoid further contamination.

At the end of the presentation Ms. McGarry presented a number of hypothetical outbreak cases for the audience member to solve. Participants used their web seminar tools to write ideas on how to prevent the outbreak from happening and on how to solve it. All participants received a copy of NSTA's SciGuide on Organisms, grades 5-8.

Here are some comments provided by the participants at the end of the Web Seminar:

  • "My state has new frameworks for science. My grade level is covering food preservation and the relationship of microbes in food."
  • "Good, current information about a topic that is in the news and relevant to middle school kids. E-coli is very misunderstood."
  • "Content was relevant in its applicability to high school biology instruction. It offers teachers an opportunity to demonstrate and integrate investigational methods, scientific inquiry, use of technology and research in one seamless web."
  • "I am currently talking to the students about bacteria and viruses and outbreak related questions come up often. This lesson will help me be able to field those questions with more knowledge."

Thanks to the participants and the presenter for the learning opportunity, the interactions, and a job well done!

Web Seminar II Resources

See a recorded version of the Web Seminar.

PowerPoint Presentation

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  Underwritten in part by FDA