We must remember that everyone does not have the same tolerance. What may bother one person may not bother the other. If you remember the activity “Determining Threshold Limits,” different people have different tolerances.
Probably the best way to reduce foodborne diseases is to become educated how they are caused and how to reduce the risk of contracting these diseases. It will not be easy, especially with older children. When they are out of the parents dietary control, you have to hope that you set a good example and have given them the background to make intelligent decisions. But even the best laid plans may go astray.
Foodborne diseases result in an estimated 1 to 6 billion dollars a year in medical expenses and lost productivity. Of the 76 million people who suffer foodborne disease in the United States, 325,000 are hospitalized and more than 5,000 die.
There are more than 250 known foodborne diseases. Bacteria is the chief cause followed by viruses and parasites. Following certain food handling procedures can reduce the risk of contraction foodborne diseases.
What are some ways to prevent foodborne diseases?
Wash your hands before preparing food.
Clean work area with hot soapy water after preparing poultry or meat.
Cook beef and beef products thoroughly, especially hamburg.
Cook poultry and eggs thoroughly.
Eat cooked food promptly and refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours.
Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly.(Not with soap and water as soap is not meant to be consumed.)
Drink only pasteurized mild and juices and treated surface water.
Wash hands carefully after using the bathroom.
Babies and young children are those we have the most dietary control. Babies are not mobile enough and young children do not have the financial means to purchase the food of their liking. Therefore, it is very important that you start dietary education from this early age.
Tests have shown that pesticides are routinely found in baby foods consumed by babies during their first six months of life. Although the levels are within federal standards, this can be misleading as they do not take into account the age or size of the child. Another problem is that we do not know the effect of these toxins on small children. Be aware that fruit products contained more pesticides and at higher levels than vegetables. A probable human carcinogen, iprodione, was found in peaches and plums at higher levels than any other pesticide.
The FDA is responsible of the testing of baby foods. Four times a year they test 234 samples from one geographic location and test them for pesticides and other contaminants. It would be in your best interest to check testing results from some non-government agencies to get more data. Remember, when analyzing data, investigate the source so a more valid conclusion can be made.
The following is a chart from the website: http:eartheasy.com/eat_pesticides_produce.htm
This chart not only tells which fruits and vegetables have the highest levels of pesticide residue, they also give you a list of safer substitute fruits and vegetables.
(charts available in print form)
Organic farming is one of the fastest growing agricultural endeavors in the world. The following page shows a chart from http://www.organic.aber.ac.uk/stats.shtml documenting this growth between the years 1993-1999.
Buying organic, when possible, is the safest way to buy uncontaminated food at this time. The certification process is very strict and they monitor their own farms and farm products. Organic food products are generally grown in soil that has been replenished with organic materials which supply the needed minerals to children.
Ultimately, the choices you make with food purchases and consumption are your responsibility. Hopefully, this brief introduction to food risk will motivate you to investigate more thoroughly your eating and food buying habits.
A way to involve students would be to encourage and guide them through an area of their interest for a Science Fair Topic.
Percentage of Organic Farms in EU Countries
(chart available in print form)
LESSON PLAN 1
CHEMICALS IN FOODS: ADDITIVES
Purpose: To learn the role of food additives.
Objective: The student will be able to read the label on various foods and determine the additives and the purpose of the additive for that food product.
Procedure: Follow the directions for performing Activity two-“What’s on the Label.”
Change existing physical characteristics of food during processing.
Enhance the nutritional content of food.
Enhance the color of food.
Enhance the flavor of food.
Preserve the food.
Conclusion: Most foods contain additives. People with allergic reactions to food must read labels carefully.
LESSON PLAN 2
DETRMING THRESHOLD LIMITS
Purpose: To understand what is meant by “Threshold Limit.”
Objective: The student will realize that “thresholds” are different for different individuals.
Procedure: Follow the directions for Activity one- “Taste Test for Salt Solution.”
Observations: Not everyone had the same threshold for the salt solution.
Conclusion: Taste alone cannot be used to determine the presence of absence of a Substance.
Wargo, John. Our Children’s Toxic Legacy, How Science and Law Fail to Protect Us from Pesticides. Yale University Press: Yale University 1996
An excellent resource for teachers. A good background on pesticide policies and the dangers faced by improper use of pesticides.
Environmental Science Series -- Copyright 1995 Globe Fearon Educational Publisher 240 Frisch Court, Paramus, New Jersey 07652
Deals with human populations. Can use this for increased food production demands.
Water and Air
Contains case studies dealing with water supply, quality, conservation and air pollution issues.
Discusses the various ways land is used and provides interdisciplinary connections. A good way to discuss organic farming needs.
SEPUP -- Science Education for Public Understanding Program Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California, Berkley
Chemical Survey & Solutions and Pollution
Students respond to a questionnaire concerning their perceptions about chemicals. You can investigate more activities that apply acid-base chemistry to deal with some of our water pollution problems.
Students are introduced to the concepts of probability, risk, risk comparison, and decision making.
Determining Threshold Limits
How do chemists analyze samples to determine what and how much of a certain chemical is present? A good activity to demonstrate the need for better standards of pesticide use and the labeling of products containing pesticides.
Investigation Groundwater: The Fruitvale Story
Illustrates how the source and the extent of well contamination are determined. Activity can be used to explain how pesticides can enter groundwater and may contaminate wells.
Chemicals in Foods: Additives
Investigates why chemicals are added to food. Activity can be used to show there are “trade-offs” and risks with food preservation.
eartheasy Pesticides and Produce http://eartheasy.com/eat_pesticides_produce.htm>
Food Safety Research Agenda Risk assessment and the Research Agenda http://www.fsis.usddaa.gov/OPHS/fsragend.htm
About Organic Frequently Asked Questions About Organic Farming http://www.ofrf.org/general/about_organic/index.html
Environmental Working Group
Chapter 1- Pesticides in Baby Food
Chapter 2- Sampling Plan and Testing Methods
Healthy Child online Articles and Resources
Hass, MD Elson M. Food Additives and Human Health http://healthychild.com/database/food_additives_and_human_health.htm>
Sheppard, Jane Whole Foods for Healthy Kids http://healthychild.com/database/whole_foods_for_healthy_kids.htm
Mothers for Natural Law
Genetic Engineering-Safe or Sorry? http://www.healthychild.com/database/genetic_engineering_safe_or_sorry_.htm>
Special Problems of Pesticide Exposure for Children
The Environmental Working Group Pesticides Pose Health Risks for Children
BrainPOP LLC Science Movies- Health- Digestion & Body Chemistry http://www.brainpop.com>
Maverick Ranch, Natural Lean Beef Pesticides and other Issues http:www.maverickranch.com/pesticides.htm#3>
Food Science & Technology FAQs
Food and Nutrition FAQs http://www.ifst.org/ifstfaq1.htm>
Food Safety FAQs http://www.ifst.org/ifstfaq2.htm>
Additives and Packaging FAQs http://www.ifst.org/ifstfaq3.htm
Science and Food FAQs Http://www.ifst.org/ifstfaq4.htm
Environmental Issues Organic Farming-Trends in the United States.