University News

FCS Faculty Receives Grant from Atty General for Food Safety Programs

May 29, 2002

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MACOMB, IL -- There's more to food preparation safety than just handwashing.

Marti Barclay, Karen Greathouse and Sue Tellefson, Western Illinois University family and consumer sciences faculty, and Lynette Cale of the Western Illinois Regional Council, renown for their food safety expertise, caught the attention of the Illinois Attorney General's Office with their food safety research and curriculum resulting in a $273,000 grant. The Attorney General's Office, on behalf of Illinois citizens, brought suit against certain vitamin manufacturers for alleged violations of antitrust laws. As part of the settlement, the manufacturers paid a lump sum and the State of Illinois' share was granted to programs that improve the health and/or nutrition of Illinois residents, or the advancement of nutritional, dietary or agricultural science.

Barclay's food safety curriculum team was the only food safety-related program chosen. In previous years, the WIU food safety team has created programming for kindergarten through sixth grade school teachers to incorporate food safety lessons into the regular curriculum. As an extension of that research, the resources from this new three-year grant, which will be available in $50,000 increments, will look at food safety issues with three population groups: teenage, low literacy and ethnic.

"Food safety is a major concern in restaurants and other food service operations in the state of Illinois. Many of the food safety violations identified in restaurants and other operations are due to the employees, many times teens, not following food safety regulations," according to Frances Okino, director of Food, Drugs and Dairies for the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Year 1 of the program will focus on the teenage population. The final goal is for restaurants and other food service entities to hire teens with food safety certification, Barclay said. The food safety training includes coordinating the development of curriculum for high school teachers and for county health departments. The pilot curriculum will be tested in a west-central Illinois high school and a Chicago-area school district. Year 2 will focus on the low-literacy level population, while the final year of the program will focus on the ethic/migrant population, she added.

"Added bonuses for many teenagers are that a sanitation course taken in high school may give them some community college credit before they even graduate from high school, and holding a food sanitation certificate makes them more employable," Barclay said. "New health laws require at least one person per shift at a restaurant or store to be certified in food sanitation, so now it's even more important for many establishments to have teens who have completed a sanitation course and are certified."

The food safety team's curriculum will be translated into a visual curriculum (for example, videotapes) for the low-literacy level population, and then into Spanish and Chinese for the ethnic population groups.

For more information, contact Barclay at 309/298-1775.

Posted By: Darcie Shinberger (
Office of University Communications & Marketing