Teaching Food Fraud to High School Students

Peggy Trommater
Shane Bass with family
Shane Bass with wife Emily, son Brandon, daughter Jordan, and infant son Davis. "They have been my support group throughout this program and I wouldn't be here today without them. - Shane Bass"

MS in Food Safety Student, Shane Bass, has broken new ground in the final semester of his Master’s degree. The MS in Food Safety is a Plan B Master’s Program which requires its students to complete an applied project. The course syllabus describes this project as providing “an in-depth experience where science will be integrated and applied to the resolution of a relevant food safety concern.”
For Shane’s applied project, he chose the subject of Food Fraud, which he states is “one of the most important emerging issues in the food industry today.”  Shane developed a PowerPoint presentation, entitled Food Fraud, An Introductory Curriculum, and presented it to high school students at North Johnston High School in Kenly, North Carolina.  Shane's program included before and after assessments, along with after-program surveys to critique the presentation concepts, style, and importance. The lecture was given 7 times during the week of March 20th.
“Last week was easily one of the most rewarding experiences of my career in the food industry,” Shane commented when asked how the experience went.  “I taught the course material in 4 honors science courses and 3 standard science courses, with subjects ranging from Biology to Chemistry to Earth and Environmental Science. No matter the academic level, the students were engaged throughout all the classes, they asked pertinent questions, and according to the survey done immediately following the class, the vast majority either agreed or strongly agreed that food fraud was an important concept.”  Also within the survey responses were recommendations that his materials be shared with other students.
Shane received tremendous feedback from the classroom teachers, as well, who noted that the students were still talking about the materials on the following day. His review of the pre- and post- assessment scores indicated that the students’ overall knowledge of food fraud had increased significantly by the end of the presentation.
“I have been working with Shane on the subject project and am very impressed”, said Shane’s faculty advisor, Doug Moyer, PhD, CPP Assistant Professor, Program in Public Health, Michigan State University.  “This [may be] the first time that Food Fraud will be taught as a subject at the high school level.  This is significant not only for Shane and the North Johnston High School Students (Johnston County School District, North Carolina) - but also for MSU, the MS in Food Safety program, and the Food Fraud Initiative.”

Shane began his Master’s degree in the Spring of 2015.  He currently works as the Quality Systems Manager for Automatic Rolls of North Carolina. Of his project, Shane states:  “The reason I chose this particular project has a little bit of a history to it. In the summer of 2015, I was enrolled in the "Creating a Food Safety Culture" class with Frank Yiannas and had just arrived in East Lansing for the social the night before. I had recently been through a BRC class on their newest issue 7 and one of the new additions was a vulnerability assessment for food fraud and I was very much interested in learning more about this concept.”
“During our social,” continued Shane, “I had a chance to converse with Dr. [John] Spink [Director, MSU Food Fraud Initiative] and the topic came up. We had a terrific conversation and it really engaged me to want to learn as much as I could about the concept. Roughly a year later, I was discussing the issue with a friend who happens to be a high school science teacher in a different location and he told me this topic would be a great one for his high school science students. The idea resonated with me and I began to pursue this avenue of interest for my graduate project.”
Both Dr. Spink and Dr. Moyer are instructors in the Online MS in Food Safety Program.