Innovations in food control competition: LAU nutrition students did it again!
LAU nutrition students receive second prize in the “Innovations in Food Control” inter-university competition organized by the Lebanese Ministry of Economy.
On February 15, the Lebanese Ministry of Economy held a university-wide competition entitled: “Innovations in Food Control.” The event opened the floor to entrepreneurially minded, technologically savvy students and allowed them to present proposals on how to improve the country’s food safety status.
The four LAU students majoring in nutrition awarded the second prize: Nagham Abi Ramia, Lea Baddour, Raissa Homsy and Bouchra Hayek worked under the supervision of Assistant Professor Hussein Hassan.
The winning proposal involves a “Food Safety” app that will provide immediate access to information on food safety practices and regulations. Up-to-date news with recent outbreaks and implemented quality management systems throughout the country will be available, as will the locations of the Lebanese certified restaurants and food service facilities. This application will also facilitate the cooperation between the consumer and concerned ministries regarding any complaint or foodborne illnesses, allowing for outbreaks to be identified and curtailed. Additional features of the application include food safety fun quizzes and tips of the day.
“Our winning proposal offers a user-friendly means of reporting food safety related news and complaints. In fact, it improves food safety awareness and practices, and eventually the wellbeing of Lebanese citizens” said Baddour.
The assumption that the food we are served is safe and free of pathogens is something most of us take for granted. However, strict food safety controls are needed to ensure all vendors comply with regulations. While enforcing these rules is usually the jurisdiction of the state, today the use of low-cost technology is allowing citizens to actively participate in the regulatory mechanism.
It is within this framework that fifteen proposals were submitted from nine universities. The students made presentations in front of a prominent jury consisting of representatives of the Lebanese Ministries of Agriculture, Economy, Industry and Health, among other food safety stakeholders in Lebanon.
The students were recognized on March 17 and offered certificates of appreciation by the Minister of Economy Dr. Alain Hakeem within the context of World Customer Rights Day. They were given the opportunity to discuss their proposal with representatives of the private sector in an attempt to garner a buy-in for their idea.
“We, at the nutrition program, constantly encourage our students to participate in competitions not only to reflect the high education standards that they are acquiring at LAU, but also to highlight the teamwork spirit and increase their career opportunities, ”said Dr. Hassan before adding, “It is not our first achievement in the nutrition program and will definitely not be the last.”