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Extending Food Safety Training to Other Countries Could Save Lives

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Food safety practices that Americans take for granted — washing hands with soap, refrigeration, and not cutting raw meat and vegetables on the same surface without disinfection — are not widely practiced in other places around the world, and researchers in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences want to change that.

Food safety practices that Americans take for granted — washing hands with soap, refrigeration, and not cutting raw meat and vegetables on the same surface without disinfection — are not widely practiced in other places around the world, and researchers in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences want to change that.

The World Health Organization estimates that every year, 600 million people, almost one in every 10 people in the world, get sick after eating contaminated food every year. As a result, 420,000 die annually from foodborne illness. The lack of general food-safety knowledge and poor food-handling practices result in the deaths of approximately 125,000 children under the age of five every year, the international group estimates.

Foodborne illness is a global health challenge, where some diseases are controlled and others evolve as new threats. This danger is especially significant with the increase in international trade of food and food-related commodities.

Food safety has become a global concern that is no longer an isolated threat, according to Catherine Cutter, professor of food science and assistant director of food safety and quality programs for Penn State Extension. She believes internationalization of the state university extension system, which has been vital to establishing food safety in the United States, would greatly benefit the world.

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Image: Catherine Cutter, professor of food science and assistant director of food safety and quality programs for Penn State Extension, talks to Armenien students. She believes internationalization of the state university extension system, which has been vital to establishing food safety in the United States, would greatly benefit the world. (Credit: Penn State)