Food detectives: Students investigate mock poisoning in Dubai

What made many of the guests at Noor’s birthday party sick? Why is the school clinic full of students complaining of stomachache, diarrhea and vomiting? from some Dubai schools recently got a chance to investigate such intriguing scenarios, thanks to an initiative launched at the 10th Dubai International Food Safety Conference.

Middle and high school boys and girls donned the roles of “Food Detectives” at the workshops titled so, and used their detective skills to solve the suspected food poisoning cases presented to them.

The Dubai Municipality’s Food Safety Department teamed up with Science Party Dubai to host the special workshops aimed at teaching principles of epidemiological investigation to school children.

Multiple case studies of food poisoning were presented to teams of students who used their detective skills to solve them. They also suggested ways to prevent food poisoning cases.

Arvin Jalali, a ninth grader from GEMS Winchester School told Khaleej Times the students enjoyed learning things that they had not taken seriously earlier.

“Look at all the bacteria around us. How all they can spread! We are really lucky that nothing happened to us so far,” he said.

His schoolmate Imran Hussain Tauqeer said most participants didn’t realise the side effects of what they often do and take for granted.

“Now we know many things about basic food safety. Now we know the importance of hand hygiene, temperature control, and bacteria in raw eggs,” he said.

Teachers present at the workshop echoed the same.

Martha Carol, a teacher with Dar Al Marefa School, said: “They came to know how bacteria grow at certain level of temperature which they feel safe, but is actually not safe. They realized it better when they investigated by themselves.”