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
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,"
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