Lapeer County ensuring safe and secure food 2018

MSU Extension efforts in ensuring safe and secure food lead to a healthy population, which in turn helps keep health care costs in check and our communities viable.

Reducing foodborne illness through education

The National Institutes of Health estimates that every year, 48 million people in the United States become ill and 3,000 die from pathogens in food. Causes range from outdated home food preservation practices to unsafe sanitizing practices at public events and small businesses. Since 2013, MSU Extension food safety and preservation programs have taught almost 10,500 Michigan residents safe food handling and food preservation methods to reduce illness.

Participants include youth, nonprofit organizations that prepare food for the public and food preservers who want to create safe products for their small businesses.

In Lapeer County, Christine Venema, MSU Extension Educator for food safety, provides programming in the areas of Food Preservation, Cooking for Crowds and ServSafe manager training for adults. In 2017-18, she provided ServSafe manager education leading to certification for 30 foodservice employees in Lapeer County from local schools, restaurants and churches. This national certification program teaches about foodborne illness, how to prevent it and how to train employees on the latest food safety issues including:

  • providing safe food,
  • forms of contamination,
  • the safe food handler,
  • the flow of food,
  • food safety management systems,
  • safe facilities & pest management,
  • cleaning & sanitizing.

Venema teaches local seniors about keeping the produce safe that they receive with their Senior Market FRESH coupons. When purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables at local farm markets, proper washing and storage of produce is critical; these messages are reinforced when seniors receive their coupons. In the summer of 2016, she reached 241 seniors, and 270 seniors in 2017

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