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edX Nutrition and Health: Food Risks

Wageningen University via edX

  • Overview
  1. edX
    Wageningen University
    6 to 8 hours/week
    10 weeks
    Paid Certificate Available
    Everyday reports of food scandals and recalls are published. One day it’s scary bacteria in meat, and another day it’s dangerous pesticides in fruits. According to some, meat needs to be cooked well to prevent food-borne illness while others warn not to heat food to prevent the formation of poisonous substances.

    Many consumers worry about the conflicting and confusing messages about food hazards

    This nutrition and health course will teach you about the hazards associated with food and give you the tools to assess and quantify the dangers they can present. You will learn the effects of food processing, the shared responsibility in the food chain and the prevention of food poisoning/intoxication. After this course, you will be able to differentiate what is a food myth vs. an actual risk. Finally, you will gain a contemporary view of how different risks can be weighed in a scientific way.

    What you'll learn
    • Overview of food hazards
    • Elementary knowledge on microbiological and toxicological risk analysis
    • How to better interpret the information overload about hazards in food
    • Why zero hazard does not exist
    • Ways to reduce hazards in food
    Module 1: Hazards and risks in the modern food chain
    Introduction to the difference between a hazard and a risk, the different types of hazards present in food and the perception of risk by public.

    Module 2: Interpretation of risks, probability and relevance
    Introduction to risk reporting, how ways of presenting information can mislead consumers and difference between significance and relevance.

    Module 3: Microorganisms in food: good, bad and/or a nuisance
    Introduction to ubiquitous, good/bad or spoiling microorganisms.

    Module 4: Qualitative and quantitative principles food safety of chemicals
    Classification of risks as avoidable or unavoidable, difference between genotoxic and non-genotoxic compounds and examples of important genotoxic carcinogens present in the food chain as well as introduction to dose-response concept.

    Module 5: Toxicological risk assessment
    Introduction to risk assessment framework, different ways of performing risk assessments depending on the nature of the chemical (i.e. genotoxic vs. non genotoxic) and hands on risk assessment of the food additive cyclamate and the carcinogen acrylamide.

    Module 6: Microbiological risk assessment
    Introduction to contamination routes, dose-response relationship and effect of temperature on microorganisms’ growth as well as sampling and legal requirements.

    Module 7: Ways to reduce risks in food
    Introduction to prevention of avoidable hazard, effect of heat on hazards and inactivation as well as prevention techniques to reduce risks in food.

    Module 8: Final assignment/exam

    Taught by
    Ivonne M.C.M. Rietjens, Marcel H. Zwietering, Martine Reij, Jochem Louisse and Jonathan Nicolas

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