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Online Course: "Consumer and Environmental Safety: Food Packaging and Kitchenware"

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On November 9th, the University of Torino, supported by funding from the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), is launching a new interactive online course entitled:  Consumers and Environmental Safety: Food Packaging and Kitchenware. The course will last for 5-weeks, is free for all and is in English. The course is prepared for a vast and generic audience, particularly those interested in knowing more about several safety aspects related to food and drinks, the potential health risks derived from packaging and contact materials.  The course will include video lessons, articles, interviews, visit laboratories, discussions and activities for the students. 

The course is prepared from teachers at the University of TORINO (Giorgio Merlo and Claudio Medana from the Dept of Biotechnology and Patrizia Bovolin from the Dept of Life Sciences) and international teachers (Amparo Lopez Rubio from the Institute for Agrochemistry and Food Technologies in Spain, Natalia Drabinska from Polish Academy of Sciences Poland, and Isabel Hoffman, CEO, TellSpec LTD. (a UK company)

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Food safety is a highly regulated issue. However, one aspect not fully considered is the migration of molecules from contact-materials into food. In particular, attention needs to be placed on chemicals present at low doses but acting on our delicate endocrine system over long time. Just reflect on the fertility, thyroid and metabolic disturbancies, which are constantly increasing in the population.

It is essential to be able to recognize, measure and monitor these compounds.  Methods and techniques should be informative and reliable. Do we have the proper tests? Can these be improved and standardized?  Research laboratory should work on developing novel and standardized monitoring test able to look at bio-distribution, episodic and global exposure.

Many subjects are linked to issues related to food and ED, such as research and analytical laboratories, epidemiologists, pediatricians, endocrinologists, consumers associations, concerned food manufacturers and retailers.  Positive interactions need to be initiated between these subjects in order to be prepared ahead of time for new upcoming local, national and EU regulations in the food business, and in particular safety regulations concerning EDs. This calls for the design, development and test of novel and safer materials, according to a “safety-by-design” concept in which many stakeholders in the food chain are implicated and should be better integrated. 

A key need is to increase the level of trust and transparency, through correct dissemination of evidence-based scientific facts and methods. As a result, the EU citizens will acquire knowledge and develop resistance againg exagerated alarmism and fake news. 

Safety also concern the environment, i.e.  preserve the ecosystem and prevent alterations of the natural microbiota. Sensitivity of the EU population on these issues is exponentially growing.

  • What are the potential risks for global health and for the environment derived from packaging ?
  • Which stakeholders are involved in the safety of packaging and how are these connected ?
  • How is research in chemistry, biology and material science contributing towards safer food ?
  • What is the role that consumers play in order to improve safety ?
  • What measures does the industry, governments and the EU put in place to ensure safe packaging ?
  • How can information and comunication technologies reach the general public and help in daily choices ?

  • Reflect on the importance of safe food packaging and kitchenware in your daily life and choices
  • Evaluate how chemicals can migrate from packaging and slowly affect our endocrine health
  • Assess how chemical and biological tests are done and evaluate their importance for safety
  • Describe the professional roles of all stakeholders in the business of food safety in general
  • Discuss the topics of the course with increased knowledge and contribute to global awareness
  • Interpret information and news with increase critical sense, especially when dealing with consumers’ health and protection

This course is for anyone interested in potential health risks derived from food packaging and kitchenware, and in particular from chemicals migrating from packaging into food/drinks.  It is directed to all consumers that want to pay attention to chemicals we are exposed to and health trends that are of increasing concern, such as endocrine disturbances. The course will show how the various stakeholders are responding to these concerns. Categories most interested are likely to be homeworkers, pregnant women and parents with children, health care workers.

The course is also for…

  1. personnel working for food production industry, interested in the potential risks associated to migration from food packages, but also interested in innovative and chemically inert, eco-friendly alternatives to substitute petrol-based materials.
  2. students that are deciding their future field of interest, interested in the links between human activities, global health and environmental protection
  3. The research community, and in particular epidemiologists, endocrinologists and pediatricians, that might be interested in developing networks for the exchange of information between active groups and third parties

Last update: 30/07/2020 15:43
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