Archive for the ‘Food Hygiene and Safety’ Category

Bring back Home Economics Education

May 21, 2010

On May 11, the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association
(JAMA) published an article recommending that Home Economics (HE) Education should be brought back as a compulsory subject in US schools. 

The rationale given by the authors (Alice H. Lichtenstein and David S. Ludwig) was that the younger generations are growing up with no healthy and thrifty food and meal preparation  skills and that HE education could help overcome this deficiency and thus  help curb rising obesity figures.

The article lays emphasis on the need to teach students about the
scientific and practical aspects of food – basic cooking techniques;
caloric requirements; sources of food (from farm to fork); food shopping and budgeting principles; food safety; sourcing and using nutrient information and labels; and effects of food on well-being and risk for chronic disease.

I feel that this list of topics is typical of a classic Home Economics curriculum, though the article does say that these topics may be  taught in a cross curricular manner.

Below are the introductory and concluding sentences of the article.

“Home Economics, otherwise known as domestic education, was a fixture in secondary schools through the 1960s, at least for girls. The underlying concept was that future homemakers should be educated in the care and feeding of their families. This idea now seems quaint, but in the midst of a pediatric obesity epidemic and concerns about the poor diet quality of adolescents in  the United States, instruction in basic food preparation and meal planning skills needs to be part of any long-term solution.” (Lichtenstein & Ludwig, 2010, p. 1857)

“Obesity presently costs society almost $150 billion annually in increased health care expenditures. The personal and economic toll of this epidemic will only increase as this  generation of adolescents develops weight-related complications such as type 2 diabetes earlier in life than ever  before. From this perspective, providing a mandatory food preparation curriculum to students throughout the country may be among the best investments society could make.” (Lichtenstein & Ludwig, 2010, p. 1858)

This article serves as further evidence of the need for a period of compulsory HE education, for both male and female students, during the formal years of schooling.

Access article here:  http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/short/303/18/1857

What do HACCP and NASA have in common?

April 12, 2010

Did you know that HACCP – Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point – the internationally recognised system for ensuring food safety was first developed to create safe food for astronauts?

This happened way back in the 1960s when Pillsbury – a US food company – was commissioned to prepare the food for NASA manned space flights.

Rather than testing batches of food at the end of the production process to ensure safety, a more practical and proactive system was developed to identify potential ‘critical failure areas’ and eliminate them from the production process.

This is how HACCP still functions today: It provides a structure for assessing risks, or what could go wrong, during food production and for putting the controls in place to minimise such risks. The system uses multiple verification methods to ensure that food safety has not been compromised during any step.

For more on HACCP and its origins go to:

http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fs122

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hazard_Analysis_and_Critical_Control_Points