Human practice

Human Practices

There is an old Chinese saying, "Bread is the staff of life." As food is a paramount necessity for people's lives, an awareness of food safety shall be raised when people are facing their daily requirement — eating. From a severe acute liver failure resulting from eating five-day-old pasta shared by YouTuber Chubbeymu, we realized that how not caring about the preservation of food and the lack of awareness for food safety in daily life could lead to unwanted life-threatening disease. Also, a norovirus contamination incident that happened in our school reminded us how important it is to make people aware of food safety and bring restaurant managers' attention to the improvements in their food safety measures. The idea of designing a test kit for quick and cheap bacteria detection was soon proposed by our teammates to solve this problem and save people from diarrhea and health problems. To test the demand for a test kit that would protect people from diarrhea and life-threatening incidents, we released an online questionnaire to Beijing residents, students from our school, and students' families with the outcome of having over 300 people fill it out.

The result exceeded our expectation that most respondents still face food safety issues in the recent era, where people are gradually raising their awareness of food contamination. According to the survey, as high as 80% of participants have experienced health problems due to inappropriate food processing, and 16% of these people have suffered from it more than five times. Although most of these incidents do not have serious results (do not require medical attention), 22% of the respondents needed a hospital visit. More than 37% of households store leftovers for at least two days (which is enough for most foodborne pathogens to develop) before throwing them out. These data proved that a convenient method for detecting common harmful pathogens, such as Bacillus cereus, has great potential benefit in families who are used to storing leftovers, aiming at protecting themselves from food contamination.

Most of the respondents (more than 95%) demanded a fast test kit to detect bacteria in refrigerated food or food from restaurants, which reveals people's increased attention to food safety. However, the lack of related products in the market has hindered people from avoiding health problems due to food contamination. Besides, more than 83% of participants suggested that the cost for detection each time should be within 30$, supporting the need for a cheap bacteria-detection product. Overall, most participants demanded a quick and inexpensive test kit at home and in restaurants to detect bacteria in food. In contrast, many of them had unpleasant experiences with food safety issues.

In addition, we thank the survey participants for their time and support of our project!

Figure 1. One of the result chart of our questionnaire(Of all the health problems you/loved ones have experienced caused by spoiled/mis-handled food, what were the most serious consequences?)

Figure 2.The result chart of our questionnaire(What is the longest time you usually keep leftover food refrigerated in your home?)

Figure 3.How often will you use the testing kit?

Figure 4.The result chart of our questionnaire(The cost of each high-precision test should be no higher than?)

Integrated Human Practices

In the human practice part, our team mainly focused on the positive effects our project could have on the community and possible improvements that can be made to the project. We decided to interview people in the food safety field of expertise to help evaluate and improve our project. We interviewed the manager in the cafeteria and the nurse in the school clinic. Our Questions include the normal methods they used to deal with food safety problems and the possible improvements of the methods. Based on our interview, we found that lower price is one of the most important factors the interviewees considered, and our initial design might make our product too expensive. Having such results, we applied the crystal violet induction system and the protein quality control system, which significantly reduced the price of the inducer and increased the quality of our protein, making our intended product more affordable.

PART 1: The Problem and Our Approach

The whole idea emerged from an authentic experience. One year ago, Norovirus attacked our school. In our grade, half of the students were infected. Symptoms like vomiting, nausea, and headache appeared in surrounding students. After that attack, the school announced that the possible cause was that the food source contained Norovirus. That time was the first time the word “foodborne disease” came into everyone’s sight. When our team members were discussing this experience, an idea came into our minds. We wanted to do something for the safety of food. We then started to conduct research. We found out that while our food choice increased a lot, the safety quality of food, in fact, decreased. In China specifically, diseases related to food safety still account for a huge percentage of all diseases caused by teenagers. When we looked down further, we found that foodborne diseases are still one of the biggest threats to the health of a teenager. This research and formal experience lead our team to think of ways to improve the detection of the disease-causing bacteria in the food.

PART 2: Designing Our Human Practices Framework

In order to improve the method, we first need to find the things to improve in the current method. Our HP team thinks that food safety professionals can provide us with the most accurate and specific data. So, we decide to interview the manager in our school cafeteria and the nurse in the school clinic. We will design questions related to the response and detection of foodborne diseases in school.

PART 3: Our Human Practices Journey

Interview with dining hall manager Mr.Chen

Figure 5. Interview with dining hall manager Mr.Chen

Q 1: Good afternoon Mr. Chen, I’m McQueen from Grade 11. I knew that you are experienced in the managing of school cafeteria. I want to ask you some questions about Food safety supervision.

A: Sure, go on !

Q 2: The school canteen will provide delicious meals for the whole school every day, and food safety must be very important. What aspects and methods will school canteens use to supervise food safety under normal circumstances?

A: First is food sources. They have a record for where the food come from, which company, the date and who is responsible for the safety of the food. Secondly, in order to keep the food source without backteria for the whole food prosessing, cooks and cleaners must wear special suit and hat which prevent their hair form falling in the food. Thirdly, a sample will be selected from every dishes of food. These samples will be saved to test their safety.

Q3: Thank you, manager Chen. We can see that the school canteen has a complete and efficient food safety supervision system. In the preliminary investigation, we found that foodborne infectious diseases occurred from time to time in catering enterprises around the country. If there is an incident of suspected foodborne infectious disease in our school canteen, what is the plan for the school canteen?

A: Since for foodborne diseases, the original source is the most important causes. So, when there is a incident of infection disease, the school will first examine the food source and find out the exact bacteria. Then, the canteen will trace the responsibilities of this incident.

Q4:Thank you for your answer. It can be seen that the emergency response work of our school canteen is also very effective. Finally, in terms of routine supervision and emergency handling, considering the limitations of cost, technology and other factors, is there still room for improvement in some aspects?

A: Yes ! First, we need to test many food samples every days. These test not only cost time, but also money. If there is a more efficient and cheaper method, we are very glad to adopt it.

Q5: Yes, there is definitely room for improvement in the areas you just mentioned. If there is an economic and convenient method for detecting foodborne pathogenic bacteria, can it improve the current shortcomings if it is applied to the food safety supervision of school canteens?

A: Just as I mentioned in the previous question, if there is a fast and cheap method, it is going to help us a lot !

In conclusion, our interview revealed that spaces for improvement still exist in the testing of foodborne bacteria. Also, we find out that the most important factors local business and school consider is price and efficiency. This interview not only makes us know that our future experiment will have substantive effect, but also cleared our project’s overall direction.

Interview with school nurse Ms.Wang

Figure 6. Interview with school nurse Heyou Wang, RN

Q 1: Good afternoon, Ms. Wang; I'm McQueen from Grade 11. I know that you are experienced working in the school clinic. I want to ask you some questions about Food safety supervision.

A: Sure, I'm glad I can help you with this!

Q 2: I learned that foodborne infectious diseases often occur in catering enterprises around the country. Symptoms of the disease include nausea, vomiting, and usually fever. How would you distinguish foodborne contagious diseases from the common cold and fever?

A: Since it is a foodborne infectious disease, in addition to nausea, vomiting, and fever, it also has specific diarrhea symptoms of the gastrointestinal tract and dehydration caused by diarrhea. At the same time, it should also be combined with the inquiry into the route of infection. For example, eating in restaurants or eating the same thing, and whether there is a recent history of living in epidemic areas. The hospital will make a further judgment based on blood, urine, stool, and other relevant examinations.

Q3: Wow, that is very long! I can see that the school doctors are incredibly experienced. If there is an incident of foodborne infectious disease in our school canteen, what plans does the school clinic have? We want to know.

A: (She smiled) First, find the source of the infection and ask the affected students about the meal process, place, and time. Then, Reduce the screening scope of infectious germs, cut off infectious sources as soon as possible, and avoid further expansion of the moderate range. Thirdly, parents should be informed in time, and we will report this information to the leader in charge, and the nearby hospital should be contacted to transfer severe patients. Since the process is complicated and full of risks, we don't want to use it someday in reality!

Q4:Thank you for your answer. The emergency response work of our school clinic is very effective. Finally, in terms of routine supervision and emergency handling, considering the limitations of cost, technology, and other factors, is there still room for improvement in some aspects?

A: It should be said that society is constantly developing. Currently, the monitoring technology of drinking water and food safety in schools is the most advanced. The state also designated a professional department to provide services for teachers and students. The school system is also managed according to the most strict system. But, If more advanced, convenient equipment and systems are introduced, I believe the school will actively try.


First, our interview revealed that spaces for improvement still exist in testing foodborne bacteria. Also, we find out that the most critical factors local business and school consider is price and efficiency. This interview revealed that our future experiment would have a substantive effect and cleared our project's overall direction. From the clinic, we find out that problems like the fee to preserve and the problem of false positive still remains to solve.