Serving Food Safely Workshops Launched In Louisiana Arkansas Mississippi

Elizabeth S. Reames, Merrill, Thomas A.  |  10/11/2006 11:53:44 PM

LSU AgCenter agents and specialists are at the helm of a three-state effort to teach food safety principles to staff members and volunteers at food banks and similar "food recovery" agencies. LSU AgCenter agent Alexis Navarro, left foreground, and LSU AgCenter food safety expert Dr. Beth Reames, talk about handwashing techniques with volunteers at the Salvation Army in New Orleans.

LSU AgCenter agent Ramona Gentry, center, stresses the importance of calibrating thermometers to ensure hot foods are kept hot enough and cold foods are kept cold enough.

De’Shoin Y. Friendship of the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center speaks to participants in a food safety workshop in Baton Rouge. The workshops are part of a three-state cooperative effort led by the LSU AgCenter, which is designed to ensure the safety of food provided to those who are less fortunate.

News Release Distributed 11/25/2003

A series of workshops on "Serving Food Safely" recently were launched as a collaborative effort of the land-grant universities in Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi.

The workshops are targeted at staff members and volunteers at food banks and similar "food recovery" agencies. The educational sessions are designed to ensure the meals supplied to those who might otherwise go hungry are handled appropriately.

"Workshop participants learn about the importance of food safety," said LSU AgCenter nutritionist Dr. Beth Reames, who serves as the director of this project, which is funded by a $450,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service.

"A lot of the teaching process comes through activities and games such as Food Safety Tic-Tac-Toe, calibrating food thermometers, proper handwashing techniques and viewing pictures of microorganism growth under fingernails or from items such as a dishcloth or sponge," Reames said. "But we also stress how critical it is for food to be handled safely, so people don’t become ill or worse from the food they receive."

In Louisiana, such workshops have been conducted in Oak Grove, New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Among those who participated were food recovery agencies affiliated with the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank, Second Harvesters Food Bank and the Northeast Louisiana Food Bank, as well as the Salvation Army in the New Orleans metropolitan area.

The "Serving Food Safely" curriculum was developed as a collaborative project involving the LSU AgCenter, Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center, University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service and Mississippi State University Cooperative Extension Service.

"We’re becoming involved in more and more collaborative projects these days," said Dr. William B. "Bill" Richardson, chancellor of the LSU AgCenter. "But we’re particularly proud that this one marks the first time the LSU AgCenter is the lead institution on a USDA/CSREES National Integrated Food Safety Initiative multistate project.

"And, of course, we’re proud that it involves something to ensure the safety and quality of food served to people here in Louisiana and adjoining states."

The educational outline for the workshops includes 10 food safety topics – What Causes Foodborne Illness?, Preventing Foodborne Illness, Keeping Food Out of the Temperature Danger Zone, Personal Hygiene and Handwashing Procedures, Cleaning and Sanitizing, Handling and Serving Food Safely, Food Storage, Transporting Food Safely, Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) for Control of Food Safety and Cleaning and Inspecting Fresh Fruits and Vegetables.

For additional information about these workshops or when similar workshops may be offered in your area, contact your parish LSU AgCenter office. To find the one nearest you, or to view the latest news on LSU AgCenter programs, visit www.lsuagcenter.com.

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Contact: Beth Reames at (225) 578-1425 or breames@agcenter.lsu.edu
Editor: Tom Merrill at (225) 578-2263 or tmerrill@agcenter.lsu.edu

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