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APHL Fall 2011

What Are STEMs?

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. These four disciplines are closely related and are often studied and used together in real-world applications.

  • Science: The study of the natural world, including subjects such as biology, chemistry, and physics.
  • Technology: The application of scientific knowledge to develop new tools, products, and processes.
  • Engineering: The design, construction, and operation of complex systems, such as buildings, bridges, and machines.
  • Mathematics: The study of numbers, quantities, and shapes, and the use of mathematical methods to solve problems.

STEM education aims to provide students with the knowledge and skills they need to excel in these fields and to be able to apply them in real-world problem-solving. It is a multidisciplinary approach that focuses on hands-on, project-based learning and encourages the integration of these subjects to solve complex problems.

It is crucial to the modern economy and is important to many industries, from healthcare to manufacturing to communications.

How can we use science to overcome foodborne pathogens?

Science plays a vital role in the prevention and control of foodborne pathogens. By understanding the biology, genetics, and behavior of these microorganisms, scientists are able to develop effective methods for detecting, controlling, and preventing the spread of foodborne pathogens. Some examples of how science is used to overcome foodborne pathogens include:

  • Microbial testing and analysis: Scientists use various techniques, such as PCR, to identify and quantify pathogens in food samples. This helps to detect contamination early and to trace its source.
  • Development of food safety interventions: Scientists can research and develop interventions like high-pressure processing, ultraviolet light, and food formulation to help eliminate or reduce the level of pathogens in food products.
  • Food safety research: Scientists can study how different environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, and storage conditions affect the growth and survival of pathogens, and how these pathogens may survive or inactivate by food processing methods.
  • Vaccine development: scientists can study the structure and behavior of foodborne pathogens, so they can work on developing vaccines that protect people from these organisms, as well as antivirals, antibiotics, and other treatments.
  • Public education and awareness: Scientists can educate the public about the causes and risks of foodborne illnesses and provide information on how to prevent and control them.
  • Surveillance and monitoring: Scientists can track the incidence of foodborne illnesses to determine the causes and identify any trends or patterns. This helps public health officials make informed decisions about food safety and take action to protect the public.

Overall, by using scientific methodologies and knowledge, scientists can help to ensure the safety and quality of the food we eat and decrease the risk of foodborne illnesses.

Foodborne pathogens history

In recent years, advances in technology and food safety regulations have helped to reduce the number of foodborne illness outbreaks. However, foodborne pathogens continue to be a significant public health concern, and new and emerging pathogens are being identified.

One of the most significant foodborne illness outbreaks in recent history was the 1993 E. coli outbreak in the Pacific Northwest linked to undercooked hamburgers. This outbreak led to the introduction of stricter regulations on ground beef production and prompted the development of new food safety measures.

In recent times there have been many foodborne pathogen outbreaks, such as the 2011 outbreak of Listeria in cantaloupe in the U.S, the 2018 E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce, and the 2020 Salmonella outbreak linked to red onions. These outbreaks, along with others, have brought attention to the ongoing need for improved food safety measures and a better understanding of the sources and spread of foodborne pathogens.

Overall, foodborne pathogens have been a concern throughout history, and while significant progress has been made in controlling and preventing these illnesses, there is still much work to be done to ensure the safety of the food supply.