Nutrition and Health: Food Safety (edX)

Nutrition and Health: Food Safety is a free online MOOC Course, Offered by Wageningen University via edX.

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Every day reports of food scandals and recalls are published. One day it’s scary bacteria in meat, and another day it’s dangerous pesticides in fruits. According to some, meat needs to be cooked well to prevent food-borne illness while others warn not to heat food to prevent the formation of poisonous substances.

Many consumers worry about the conflicting and confusing messages about food hazards.

This nutrition and health course will teach you about the risk factors associated with food and give you the tools to assess and quantify the dangers they can present. You will learn about food safety, the effects of food processing, the shared responsibility in the food chain, and the prevention of food poisoning.

After this course, you will be able to differentiate what is a food myth and what is an actual health risk. Finally, you will gain a contemporary view of how different risks can be weighed in a scientific way.


Module1: Hazards and risks in the modern food chain

Introduction to the difference between a hazard and a risk, the different types of hazards present in food, and the perception of risk by the public.

Module 2: Interpretation of risks, probability, and relevance

Introduction to risk reporting, how ways of presenting information can mislead consumers, and the difference between significance and

Module 3: Microorganisms in food: good, bad, and/or a nuisance

Introduction to ubiquitous, good/bad, or spoiling microorganisms.

Module 4: Qualitative and quantitative principles food safety of chemicals

Classification of risks as avoidable or unavoidable, the difference between genotoxic and non-genotoxic compounds and examples of important genotoxic carcinogens present in the food chain as well as an introduction to the dose-response concept.

Module 5: Toxicological risk assessment

Introduction to risk assessment framework, different ways of performing risk assessments depending on the nature of the chemical (i.e. genotoxic vs. non-genotoxic), and hands on risk assessment of the food additive cyclamate and the carcinogen acrylamide.

Module 6: Microbiological risk assessment

Introduction to contamination routes, dose-response relationship, and effect of temperature on microorganisms’ growth as well as sampling and legal requirements.

Module 7: Ways to reduce risks in food

Introduction to the prevention of avoidable hazards, the effect of heat on hazards, and inactivation as well as prevention techniques to reduce risks in food.

Module 8: Final assignment/exam



  • Ivonne M.C.M. Rietjens
  • Marcel H. Zwietering
  • Martine Reij
  • Jochem Louisse
  • Jonathan Nicolas

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8 Hours

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Course Length

8 Weeks

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