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2012 Master's Level Graduate Research Conference

Session I - Session II - Session III - Session IV

Cultural Foods: An Emerging Food Safety Concern

This paper is a knowledge synthesis report on the risk of foodborne disease related to cultural foods in North America. The report comprises a literature review, a convenience survey of current practices across Canada, gaps in knowledge and communication, and recommendations. The literature review revealed that cultural foods have gained significant popularity and are subsequently being implicated in a rising number of foodborne outbreaks. The main issue of concern was that public health professionals might have limited knowledge on the safety of some cultural foods that are prepared for the general public. Gaps in knowledge and communication included a lack of an adequate system for categorizing cultural foods, unfamiliarity of ingredients and preparation techniques, and inadequate resources regarding food safety for various cultural foods. The results of the convenience survey of health departments across Canada suggested a need for consistent policies on handling unfamiliar cultural foods. Three recommendations were proposed to address current gaps in knowledge and communication. First, a flexible definition for cultural or unfamiliar foods must be developed. Second, a centralized online database of resources with information about the ingredients and preparation of cultural foods should be created. Finally, cultural food training should be incorporated into workshops for public health inspectors and local food handlers and operators. These recommendations will increase the knowledge of various cultural foods amongst public health professionals and food operators, and allow the proper application of food safety principles to decrease the risk of foodborne illnesses due to cultural foods.

Presenters: Melissa Kim (University of Guelph) --
Fatima Zaidi (University of Guelph) --
Topic: Social Work/Public Health/Nursing - Panel
Location: 127 Hartwell
Time: 3:55 pm (Session IV)