MTSU food safety students take test as professor t...

MTSU food safety students take test as professor taste-tests their food

For the 18 students in MTSU professor Cynthia Ayers’ class, the proof is in the preparation, not necessarily the eating.

They will take their final exam in Ayers’ food safety class at a “barbecue cookout” Wednesday, May 7, in the parking lot behind the Ellington Human Services Annex.

The students will prepare salads, salmon, kebabs and other items with the emphasis on the best practices for guarding against food poisoning. Their professionalism will be especially important since they’ll be eating that food themselves.

Professor Cynthia Ayers

“We teach the four C’s: cook your food properly, cool your food properly, keep your hands and surfaces clean and don’t cross-contaminate your foods,” said Ayers, an adjunct professor for MTSU’s School of Agribusiness and Agriscience and the Department of Human Sciences.

Ayers said she will prepare a grading rubric that will include criteria such as the final internal cooking temperature of particular foods, the proper use of food thermometers and how to wash, grill and sanitize.

“You’re not necessarily judging them on how well their food tastes but how well they have prepared it,” Ayers said.

Ayers has nearly 30 years of experience in the food safety field, working for a food service company, serving as an industry consultant and as an educator.

Last year, she completed the requirements to be named a safe quality food practitioner by the Global Food Safety Initiative, a nonprofit foundation.

She said she has been impressed with her students in this dual enrollment course, which includes both nutrition and food science students and agribusiness and agriscience students. Some of them work for restaurants or caterers.

“One student has told me that she is now the thorn in the side of her manager because she makes sure that they do everything correctly,” Ayers said.

A miniature three-compartment sink will be set up in the parking lot to be used in the preparation process.

For more information, contact Ayers at, the Department of Human Sciences at 615-898-2884 or the School of Agribusiness and Agriscience at 615-898-2523.

Gina K. Logue (