Lebanese American University


Keeping an eye on food

LAU releases a first-of-its-kind survey on food safety knowledge and practices among its students.

At the outdoors event one of the stands allowed those interested to observe with microscopes live bacteria, results of improper food safety.

Nutrition Club members offered interactive test games with the most difficult activity involved properly stacking food in a fridge.

The organizers and their three e.coli, salmonella and clostridium mascots.

Click on any photo to view all three pictures.

April 24 marked the first LAU Food Safety Awareness Day, created to reveal the results of an innovative study on “Food Safety Knowledge and Practices among 1000 LAU Students.” The survey was conducted by Assistant Professor Dr. Hussein F. Hassan of the Natural Sciences Department’s Nutrition Program.

In a lecture hosted at LAU Beirut, Hassan introduced his work — which is the first of its kind in Lebanon — investigating the association between the level of food safety knowledge and practices and the socio-demographic and academic characteristics among students.

Warning that “our food safety perceptions are our worst enemies” Hassan said there is a high need for initiatives to improve the food safety awareness among young Lebanese consumers, who scored on average 45% in terms of knowledge, in comparison to Turkey’s 58% and Saudi Arabia’s 75%.

“The young consumers of today are the future caregivers, which puts them at risk of potentially causing harm,” he warned.

The study also highlighted a number of interesting correlations finding for example that those who live with their parents scored better than those living alone or with friends. And although women and seniors scored best overall, the students of health-related majors such as Biology, Nutrition and Pharmacy outperformed those from non-health ones. Funnily enough, those who rarely cook knew more than those who cook all the time.

Also according to the study, 79% of us mistakenly assume they are able to properly stack food in a fridge.

The Food Safety Awareness Day also included an outdoors ‘Eyes on Food’ event organized by the Department of Natural Sciences and the Nutrition Club. Students and faculty members alike were invited to test their food safety knowledge and familiarize themselves with the topic at hand.

Bana Kobrosly, country manager of Boecker who sponsored the event said, “This raises issues beyond what most people realize - it’s more than just about cleaning.”.

Additional findings and tips:
· 86% of LAU students use paper towel to dry their hands (best practice), vs. 9% use the hot air dryer;
· 79% store their meat in the top or middle shelf of their fridge (right practice) vs. 21% in the lowest shelf;
· 18% know that danger zone for food is 5-60C;
. 49% thaw the frozen meat in the fridge overnight or in the microwave (best practice) vs. 51% under running water or leaving it on the kitchen counter;
· Only 15% dip their vegetables in water and salt before consumption;
· 12% do not wash their hands before eating while only 42% wash their hands with soap and water;
· 26% know that the right freezer temperature is -18C and right fridge temperature is 4C;
· 6% think that an HIV-positive food handler should not cook food (completely wrong).


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