Activity 18
Is all food safe? What concerns you about food safety? THE ACTIVITY:
Students identify and classify food safety issues through news-paper research. Students present a summary of two teacherapproved articles to the class in chart/paragraph form.



Food safety myths, facts, beliefs, opinions PURPOSE:
❍ To become acquainted with food safety issues.
❍ To increase awareness of factors involved in food safety and ❍ To familiarize students with the role the media plays in providing information to the public and how informationand views change over time.
Teacher Resources (see attached newspaper articles)Multiple newspapers and magazinesScissors, glue, manilla tag, coloring pens/pencils TIME REQUIRED:
Several class periods, but varies according to how muchemphasis is placed on lesson.
BACKGROUND - For the Teacher
Food safety is a controversial subject of interest to all who consume, produce or market food substances. There are a number of food safety issues in the media influencing consumer choice and decision making which invariably affect theproduction and marketing of these products. How can nutrition and agricultural education help students make critical decisionsregarding consumption? How will they distinguish facts from opinions, fiction, beliefs and values to achieve a balanced bias?This lesson may begin to help answer those questions. Before beginning the lesson, read the attached Teacher Resources andkeep in mind the following food safety issues: Food poisoning from microbes (bacteria) is Canada’s No. 1 food safety problem.
The idea that “natural” is somehow healthier is a misconception.
Manmade pesticides in Canada are strictly controlled.
The use of the term “organic” does not mean that these foods are more nutritious or more safe.
Antibiotics and hormones contribute to a healthy livestock product.
Part 1

Collect newspapers and/or magazines for clipping.
Part 2

On the board, write “Is All Food Safe?” Students brainstorm, teacher writes theirexamples on the board. Discuss food poisoning and their experiences with it.
Part 3

Have students find and summarize the 5 W’s of two newspaper articles relating to foodsafety issues. After teacher approval, glue articles and paragraph summaries on manillatag for oral presentation to class.
As a group classify issues into five main categories:a) NOTE:
Refer to newspaper articles in Teacher Resources for examples of the above. Other issues can be addressed to extend the lesson.
In reading the included articles, be aware that each may hold its own bias. Beef Cattle and Sheep Branch adds more recent facts to "Drug-laced animals ." For 1991-92, 3.3% of suspect or randomly sampled pork carcases contained tracesof antibiotic residues in muscle tissues.
For 1992, only 0.25% of animals tested showed some traces of sulfonamide residue.
Since 1987, no Canadian pork sample has been found to contain any residue ofchloramphenicol.
Part 4

Divide class into interest groups based on the aforementioned five categories of issuesand have a role-playing debate on the issues.
Is the information from the newspapers and magazines accurate? EVALUATION STRATEGIES
Discussion contributions and participation when students discuss validity of each issue in group presentations.
Students write thank you notes to speakers.
Based on the Canada Food Guide, students plan potluck lunch and research origins of foods they bring. Workingindividually or as a class, students graph food choices based on food groups.
Accessing information - Students request information from Agricultural Representative re: food safety and requestspeakers.
Guest speakers - Students interview speakers regarding food safety issues.
Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, The Western Producer, other newspapers and magazines Alberta Agriculture Publications List and Audio Visual Catalogue. (These may be in your school resource area. Or, theyare available from Print Media Branch or Film Library at 7000 - 113 Street, Edmonton, Alberta T6H 5T6).
Other contacts to consider are:
Agriculture CanadaAgriFood Safety DivisionFood Production and Inspection BranchHalldon House2255 Carling AvenueOttawa, Ontario K1A 0Y9(613) 995-5433 By Carol Moran
TIMES-COLONIST Tuesday, March 19, 1991
Burger disease
can be deadly
Here’s a quiz to gauge your knowledge offood poisoning.
True or false?
still recuperating from a brush with death leaving them sit on the counter to air dry.
Hines, a health inspector for the Capital benedict at a restaurant. Six hours later, you’re sick as a dog, but she’s feeling fine.
“I had it for 10 days,” she said. “I Since you both at the same thing, it can’t went to the doctor after I’d had it a few particular strain of E. coli bacteria which hamburger disease, since it’s transmitted in Canada is contaminated with salmonella be paralyzed,” she said. “They wanted to warn him that anything was possible.” egg is protected from salmonella bacteria.
— it happened in Calgary,” he said.
the patient will bleed into the bowel, he poisoning, but one cooked medium is safe.
kitchen, you don’t have to bother washing at the height of her illness. At one point 10. If you’ve eaten tainted food, any
fail or that she might suffer brain damage resulting illness will strike within 24 hours.
and the care she received at Royal Jubilee ANSWERS: Only numbers 4 and 6 aretrue.
— it just left me so weak,” she said in an TEACHER RESOURCE
DRUGS - "Antibiotics and Hormones"
The GAZETTE, Montreal, Saturday, April 13, 1985 Drug-laced animal food a human health risk
almost word for word, a warning issued in antibacterial agents used to prevent disease sur l’agriculture au Quebec. After studying by RICK BOYCHUK
concluded that the “almost total lack of of The Gazette
control over the distribution and sale of veterinary medicines presents a danger that testing program at slaughterhouses, tracing animals with high levels back to the farm ‘Gross violations’
of his Mont St. Hilaire home, Gauthier is monitoring report prepared by Agriculture Fatal reaction
farm drugs is, especially among Quebec’s meat is real. It can’t be ignored,” says and March 1984 contained residue levels of the antibacterial agent carbadox above the stimulate the growth of farm animals.
sulfonamide violations have fallen, Quebec and Agriculture Canada. These results, the farmers appear to have simply switched to report's authors, warn, "are indicative of carbadox or antibiotics like tetracycline, withdrawal period." Preliminary results residues range from allergic reactions to violation rate for carbadox is falling but is Social Affairs Department’s environmental liver and kidney dysfunctions and cancer.
health committee, says the danger of eating or randomly sampled pork carcasses tested in it remains, for the moment, a potential during the same period contained traces of antibiotic residues in the muscle tissue.
reported cases of illnesses caused by drug- 1983 federal inspectors in Quebec found a “yellowish discoloration of the bones in at least half of that in the form of “feed several hundred” pig carcasses, said Robert currently the greatest source of concern is chloramphenicol, a potent antibiotic used discoloration is virtually synonymous with the overuse of (the antibiotic) tetracycline.” There is virtually no control over the sale Quebec pig farmers in the late 1970s when farmers have used it on their animals since residue testing revealed more than 10 per TEACHER RESOURCE
SHEET TWO -- Cont'd
Quebec threatened to sue the Office unless hamburger meat infected with an antibiotic- resistant strain of salmonella, a bacteria which is often the cause of food poisoning.
Stop imports
that had been routinely fed the antibiotic 1/100,000,” says Bert Mitchell, director gives them the exclusive right to sell animal anemia in Canada every year, but Mitchell says “none of the deaths have ever been indiscriminate sale of veterinary medicines without restriction and generally without the advice of a veterinarian or pharmacist (FDA) ban the use of antibiotics in animal Council argued that the use of antibiotics carcasses had residues only in the kidney, as feed additives “contributes to increasing which is usually used for animal feed,” levels of bacterial resistance to penicillin trips through the countryside to sell animal and tetracycline, two clinically important ‘Black Market’
U.S. lobbying to stop imports of Canadian the result that other antibiotics that are and sale of veterinary medicines in Quebec dangerous must be used in their place.” for Garon called the situation “anarchy.” drug company representatives, Agriculture consensus from all the players on the need on antibiotics in animal feed in 1977 but worry that the list will be too restrictive de Montreal veterinarian and toxicologist, Veterinary Medicines said the Centres for and make it difficult for the farmer to get believes the resistant bacteria “may prove Federation des producteurs de porcs, says if the controls are too tight, farmers will Indiscriminate sale
have been debating the need to restrict the veterinary medicines,” says Scalabrini.
controls will drive up production costs.
food is contributing to human illness has Quebec, which regulates the activities of the province’s professional corporations, slaughterhouse, says “it’s the veterinarians proposal. They get a fee for every visit andwe will have to call them more often.” TEACHER RESOURCE
TIMES-COLONIST Saturday, November 25, 1989 The Canadian Press
mammals and insects from eating them, and small amounts of agricultural chemicals in protect people when they eat “natural poisons your food because there are plenty of natural that are sometimes in the range of one part per 20,000, like we do with potatoes.
poisons,” said William Hamman, a product cabbage is mild food poisoning,” he added.
development scientist with Monsanto Canada pesticides is based on irrational thinking by alkaloids, such as solanine, corn and peanuts have aflatoxin, a highly poisonous fungaltoxin, chemicals, or that “the setting of food barbecued or smoked meats have dangerously tolerance levels for pesticides is such that high levels of benzopyrene, a cancer-causing the risk is extremely low,” he said.
oxalates,” he told a group of potato-growers of thousands of different chemicals with every “Not many years ago, 25 per cent of our meal, some of which are very toxic, and yet population was required to produce food for we don’t get sick, why are we worried about five parts per billion of a pesticide that may population produces not only all the food for the nation, $9-billion worth, but an extra $9- billion worth for export to assist countries “everything from nature is good for you while everything man-made or chemical is bad for “Suffice it to say, those countries are using sustainable agriculture, while we are using mechanization, genetics, fertilizers, about 150 naturally occurring, non-nutritional pesticides and intensive crop management, storage and processing to ensure inexpensive TEACHER RESOURCE
THE OTTAWA CITIZEN - TUESDAY, MAY 2, 1989 Chemophobia: Fear of chemical hazards growing consequences of rapidly spreading chemophobia.
“Toxicology is both a science and an art,” Wilkinson explained. “There is genuine uncertainty concerns about the safety of foods and chemicals in and disagreement about how to interpret data — how, perspective and help people decide what to ask of for example, to extrapolate from experiments in which animals are dosed continuously with massive amounts Wilkinson, a former professor of entomology of a chemical to humans who are exposed intermittently specializing in insecticides and toxicology at Cornell University, is now a scientific adviser on Such extrapolation is especially uncertain when But this mounting “chemophobia” is, in environmental health risks for a consulting firm, it comes to carcinogens, since it is not known at what, turn, raising fears among many scientists who Versar, Inc., in Springfield, Va. It does a lot of work if any, levels they may have no effect during the life worry that it will inappropriately drain limited for the agricultural chemical industry.
regulatory resources ad ultimately may threaten, Hotchkiss, formerly a scientist at the U.S. Food scientists in and out of industry, including some and Drug Administration who evaluated carcinogens Currently, many scientific experts say, an who are strong advocates for protecting the public in foods, believes the attention being focused on increasing amount of regulation is being created from avoidable environmental toxins.
chemical contaminants is undermining behavioral on the basis of politics, rather than sound science.
Wilkinson sees the current obsession with changes that are far more likely to have a positive chemical hazards as stemming from two common effect on human health. The big cancer risks as far as misconceptions. One is that “we’re in the midst of diet is concerned are not chemicals present in tiny chemicals, have spurred sometimes extreme an epidemic of human cancer.” The other is that amounts, but the kinds of foods people eat.
“this epidemic is due primarily to exposure to People “. eat too much fat and not enough fibre from grains, fruits and vegetables,” Hotchkiss said.
temporarily, all apples and apple products from In truth, except for lung cancer (which rose “There is no evidence that removing chemicals A, B, school lunch programs following reports linking because of smoking) and, to a lesser extent, breast C and X will do anything to reduce the risk of cancer, the orchard chemical Alar to cancer in laboratory cancer (which has been linked to our fat-rich diet), but there is a lot of evidence that eating more high- most forms of cancer have stayed constant or declined slightly in incidence since 1950.
He is also concerned about the diversion of “lives on peanut butter sandwiches” stopped Hotchkiss pointed out that stomach cancer, limited resources. California, which monitors pesticide giving them to her child because she read that “the one cancer you’d think would be diet-related,” residues even more closely than federal agencies, has peanuts may be contaminated with aflatoxin, a has actually plummeted since pesticides came into found that fewer than one per cent of fresh foods have natural chemical that can cause cancer.
more pesticides than are allowed by law and that 80 ● A woman who declares that she is “not According to the best available scientific per cent of foods are totally free of pesticide residues.
a fanatic” stopped eating out-of-season fruits estimates, 99.9 per cent of carcinogens in the diet Devoting more money and personnel to pesticide and vegetables after hearing that many if not all came from natural sources. Synthetic chemicals monitoring will mean that even fewer resources are are protected from spoilage by pesticides that account for only 0.01 per cent of the carcinogens available to investigate potentially fatal food-borne infections, nutritional deficiencies, naturally occurring ● Many people say they are afraid to eat toxic agents and the safety of imported foods and fish, fish in the wake of reports that fish are often First, because they are not natural. People contaminated with industrial chemicals and toxic tend to equate “natural” with “good,” Wilkinson Wilkinson believes that undue anxiety about said. “But nature is not benign,” he said. “Some of chemicals could in itself impair health.
Toxicologists say the fear is not the product the most dangerous chemicals known are found in Even more hazardous, he said, is a common reaction called “defensive indifference.” He said “The concerns are real,” said Dr. Joseph Second, because exposure is involuntary.
people with this attitude assume, “If everything causes Hotchkiss, a food toxicologist at the New York When people can control their exposure to a risk, cancer, why worry about stopping smoking or fastening State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences such as in smoking or driving, they perceive it to be at Cornell University. “People are worried less dangerous than exposures that are out of their The problem, he said, is that “people may become about the risks to their health and the health of less likely to do something about controllable risks.” Third, people worry more about risks that There there is the “cry-wolf” phenomenon. If have delayed rather than immediate effects, or people are inundated with reports about risks that are things, it is the unexpected event that makes those that could injure many people at once. There negligible, they may not pay attention when a serious news. Scientists note that finding that a substance is also more concern about hazards that arise from is safe rarely gets the attention typically devoted items considered luxuries rather than necessities.
Wilkinson also believes that chemophobia has In recent years, chemophobia has been fed by spawned a disproportionate concern about cancer “When it comes to chemicals, if it isn’t technological advances that permit scientists to with not enough attention being paid to other kinds of bad news, it isn’t news at all,” said Dr.
detect minute quantities of chemicals, down to risks, such as agents that may cause birth defects, Christopher Wilkinson, former colleague of levels of one in a quadrillion (the equivalent of one infertility or spontaneous abortions.
Hotchkiss at Cornell, in a lecture last fall.
cent in $10 billion). Just because a chemical can be detected at very low levels does not necessarily the benefits of chemicals or the potential negative TEACHER RESOURCE
THE OTTAWA CITIZEN - WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 24, 1990 Chefs start pushing natural foods
by Judy Creighton
The Canadian Press
said group co-ordinator Jane Herman.
the reputation a chef has established.
food in line with foods that are available serving. It’s 80- 90-per-cent organic.
That’s why I need an outlet like this.” TEACHER RESOURCE
Kitchener-Waterloo Record - Wednesday, May 18, 1988 Insects, hair, glass among
health risks found in food
sophisticated, computerized tests they weren’t and preservatives are food additives consumers able to perform at the dilapidated downtown have learned to live with, but insects and bits facility they occupied from 1961 until this of glass are not and laboratory workers at a new facility in Winnipeg are betting they never director, said the new facility is so advanced Not only are such “additives” unpalat- it’s only the second of its kind in Canada and able, they are downright dangerous and could will serve both Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
cause death, said Peter Pellars, supervisor of The other new lab is in Vancouver and one is the food laboratory at the new Health Protec- tion Branch building which opened officially Manitoba, northwestern Ontario and North- west Territories,” Warkentin said.
and check for extraneous matters that may be dangerous to your health,” Pellars said in an insect parts in this rice, and over here, we cocaine, heroin and all kinds of pills,” said collected some filth from some apple juice,” he Lloyd Smith, chief of laboratory services.
said, pointing to clear glass petri dishes containing the minute, offending particles.
tested, are several bottles of red wine, a couple still that police confiscated from a clandestine of heads of purple cabbage, some apples and Besides insects and glass, nails, plastic, together by pieces of clear plastic tape, from which several copper tubes and black rubber imaginable have occasionally been found in hoses emanate — was used to make liquid say they will be able to detect such noxious of the drug in the cans and are conducting substances more efficiently and quickly at the final tests on the still before making a report new facility, located on the outskirts of Winnipeg, than at their old building.
lab, especially in the foods area is a result of allow health inspectors to carry out the type of


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