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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

URI professor wins award to share tidbits
on food safety education

KINGSTON, R.I. -- August 18, 1999 -- Now some good news: Rhode Island was recently rated number one in the United States in food safety. Reports of foodborne illness outbreaks in the state have decreased by 20 percent. One of the driving forces behind these stellar statistics and the state's food safety education programs is University of Rhode Island's Martha Smith Patnoad of Wyoming, R.I.

From drafting legislation to working with Dr. Lori Pivarnik, URI research associate in food science and nutrition, in developing a curriculum for food safety education for elementary level schools to developing food safety training courses, Patnoad has dedicated time and energy to spreading the word about the possible dangers of improper food handling. Recently the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) recognized Patnoad's efforts and named her the recipient of their 1999 Sabbatical Exchange Award.

As recipient of the award, Patnoad will travel to England to spend six weeks (the program sponsors four, but Patnoad will stay the extra two with support of additional funds) next spring to study how food safety education is implemented and what impact the education has had on reducing foodborne illness.

She will visit with individuals and organizations who are involved with food safety on the national level, the local county level, and within the government. Included in her visits are meetings with regulators and providers of food safety education for food service workers, and educators from the elementary level to the college level.

Although food safety outreach programs in England are fairly new, they have already developed some strong programs, according to Patnoad.

"England has designed very effective food safety education. They have had required food worker training, which they call food hygiene training, for several years. Another big advantage that they have is a national curriculum for all schools. Because health and food safety is beginning to be introduced into the curriculum, all students will soon receive this education," explained Patnoad.

She is excited about sharing information and approaches that have been successful in Rhode Island and the region with food safety experts in England.

Upon her return, she is required to submit a written report on the experience, which she will share with a variety of organizations and programs. She will also incorporate England's successful methods of program delivery into URI's projects, research, and outreach services.

Patnoad began to study and explore the idea of food safety education 10 years ago when she took a sabbatical leave from URI to study in a regional FDA office in Massachusetts. Since then, she has worked with and collaborated with the Department of Education, the Department of Health, and other food safety organizations around the region. She currently serves as Cooperative Extension associate professor and food safety education specialist at URI, where she is coordinator of URI's Food Safety Manager Certification Program and state director for New England and Northeast Regional Food Safety Projects.

This is the eighth year the NEHA has offered the sabbatical exchange award in cooperation with the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, NEHA's United Kingdom counterpart. The program is funded by NSF International and includes a $4,000 stipend and a round-trip airline ticket to England. NEHA is a national organization with a membership of more than 5,000 public health professionals employed in a number of areas, including state, local, and federal regulatory agencies, industry, and education.


For More Information: Jan Sawyer, 401-874-2116


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University of Rhode Island

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