Changes in academic food safety microbiology teaching laboratories: Are we throwing the baby out with the bath water?
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Reports of outbreaks of human disease associated with college microbiology teaching laboratories have provided impetus for changed thinking regarding students' exposure to pathogenic microbes, including those studied in food microbiology laboratory courses. Although U.S. federal regulations stipulate that biological agents must be handled by use of a series of procedures to prevent loss of containment and" potential human exposure, these regulations are frequently more rigorously applied to research laboratories than to teaching laboratories. Regulation of biosafety by university administrators can become unnecessarily restrictive, potentially dampening student learning. This paper arose from a roundtable discussion by food microbiology teaching faculty, university biosafety compliance administrators and committee members, and food safety officers in industry regarding the implementation of biosafety practices in undergraduate food microbiology teaching laboratories. Issues addressed include the use of surrogate organisms for pathogens and criteria for their selection; the appropriateness of using uninoculated versus inoculated "spiked" samples for microbiological analysis by students; and proper administration of laboratory biosafety regulations with respect to the immuno-compromised student. The panel recommends that course instructors and university compliance officers strive to communicate concerns with one another to reach agreement on mutually acceptable practices for teaching laboratory safety preservation, toward the shared goal of successful training of young professionals entering food science and food safety-related positions.
author list (cited authors)
Jaykus, L. A., Diez-Gonzalez, F., Stevens, K. A., Gyure, R., Nobles, R., & Taylor, T. M.