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master degree course in FOOD SAFETY AND CONTROL

Course year 1
Teaching units Unit Unico
To be chosen by the student (lesson)
  • TAF: Optional subjects SSD: AGR/11 CFU: 5
To be chosen by the student (laboratory)
  • TAF: Optional subjects SSD: AGR/11 CFU: 1
Teachers: Lara MAISTRELLO
Exam type oral
Evaluation final vote
Teaching language Italiano
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Acquire knowledge on the major animal pests (invertebrates and vertebrates) in stored agri-food products; learn pest prevention and monitoring methods as well as integrated and sustainable pest control strategies; be able to implement the knowledge and techniques acquired, in relation to specific circumstances. The course is held in English.

Admission requirements

Entomology (highly recommended)

Course contents

The course is held in English.The number of credits for each activity of the program, which may vary according to the learning time of the students, will be indicatively articulated as follows.
Stored food products as ecosystems. Animal pests in stored products and in food production / processing / storage facilities. Types and extent of damages caused by animal pests on foodstuffs. Key features of arthropod pests: the importance of temperature and humidity. Basics of forensic entomology. Health issues related to animal pests of foodstuff - direct and indirect effects.
ARTHROPODS (insects and mites) (1,5 CFU, 12 hours)
Review of basic concepts of entomology. Description of main arthropods associated with stored products, food processing and storage facilities (Zygentoma, Blattodea, Orthoptera, Psocoptera, Lepidoptera, Coleoptera, Diptera, Hymenoptera, Acaridida). For pest species: identification, bio-ecology and behavior, commodities attacked, types of damage, economic and health importance. Arthropods useful as biocontrol agents. Insects as food and feed: nutritional value, safety issues, sustainability of insect farming.
VERTEBRATES (rodents, birds) (0,5 CFU, 4 hours)
Main vertebrate pests in stored products, food processing and storage facilities: rodents (Muridae) and birds (Columbidae). Description of their identification, bio-ecology and behavior, commodities attacked, types of damage, economic and health importance.
APPLIED SECTION (Theoretical part: 2 CFU, 16 hours; Practical part of laboratory exercises and field visit: 1 CFU, 12 hours)
Biocoenosis in the main food chains. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and HACCP for arthropods: monitoring devices and techniques (passive and active). Methods for insect detection (visual, sieving, calorimetric, respirometric, biological method, Berlese funnel method, ninhidrin, acoustic method, X-ray radiography, NIMR, olfactory methods, machine vision, conductance-based methods; FILTH-TEST, analyses of insect traces). How to obtain and use monitoring data: hazard analysis. Prevention techniques and methods: general hygiene and sanitation standards, adequate plant design, food protection and packaging materials. Pest management using bio-rational approaches: a) physical methods: heat and cold, centrifugal force, desiccation by abrasive dusts, electromagnetic radiations, controlled and modified atmospheres; b) Bio-based methods: biocontrol agents (predators, parasitoids, entomopathogens), use of pheromones and other semiochemicals (Biotechnical methods: mass-trapping, mating disruption, attract & kill), botanicals. Pest management using chemical control: the biocides regulation, insecticide treatments and grain protectants, fumigants and fumigation, pesticide resistance. Decision making. Prevention, monitoring and integrated management of rodents.

Teaching methods

Face-to-face lessons with Powerpoint and scientific videos (5 CFU, 40 hours). Practical part (face-to-face) (1CFU Laboratory, 12 hours): a) laboratory exercises with stereomicroscope observations of the most common pests of stored food products and their damage; b) technical visit with a pest control professional consultant to agro-food companies to show how to identify potential infestation critical points, prevention techniques, active and passive monitoring and management strategies of arthropods and vertebrates in food production/processing/storage facilities. The course is held in English. Attendance is not compulsory, but strongly recommended. The course will be delivered at the Reggio Emilia headquarters, at Pad. Besta.

Assessment methods

A final oral exam of about 30 minutes in total, which consists of three phases: a) a 10-minute presentation with insights on a topic of the course chosen by the student, agreed with the teacher; b) recognition test of 3 species of insects of agricultural interest (phytophagous and/or entomophagous); c) 2 questions on topics covered in the lessons. Phase a) makes it possible to verify the capacity of presentation and synthesis; the ability for in-depth analysis and critical analysis in applying the skills acquired and developing solutions independently. Phase b) allows to ascertain the knowledge on the part of special entomology acquired also during the exercises in the field and in the laboratory. Phase c) makes it possible to ascertain the knowledge acquired during the other parts of the course and the effective understanding of the topics covered. The exams take place in presence during the exam sessions scheduled in the teaching calendar. For each exam session, students must register using the ESSE3 platform. There are no intermediate evaluations. Test evaluation indicators: Ability to use knowledge (25%); Ability to connect knowledge (25%); Mastery of technical language (15%); Ability to discuss topics (20%); Ability to deepen the topics (15%).

Learning outcomes

1. Knowledge and understanding: through lectures, practical exercises and visits to agrofood companies, students will be able to learn the characteristics of the main animal pests of foodstuffs and the damage they cause; prevention and monitoring techniques and integrated management strategies.
2. Ability to apply knowledge and understanding: the knowledge learned will allow students to: a) detect infestations in agri-food products and/or storage/processing facilities and to correctly recognize the culprits; b) to evaluate and prepare appropriate prevention, monitoring and sampling plans at the different levels of the different supply chains; c) to choose and appropriately apply the various management strategies, favouring those with a lower environmental impact.
3. Independent judgment: through the knowledge learned during the course, students will learn to raise awareness of the risks associated with food infestations and the importance of integrated and sustainable management in this type of ecosystem. They will be able to assess the appropriateness of pest prevention, monitoring and management programs, applying the knowledge acquired to real cases. They will also be made aware of the opportunity to use insects in food and feed and the sustainability of insect farming.
4. Communication skills: students will be able to express the concepts learned with appropriate language and be able to hold a discussion about the topics covered; during the practical laboratory activities and visits to companies the ability to work in groups and interact in a multidisciplinary perspective will be stimulated.
5. Learning skills: the activities described make it possible to acquire the knowledge and methodological tools essential to be able to autonomously provide for an adequate updating in the future and to stimulate specific insights into the subject through the study of specialized texts, scientific articles and multimedia documents.


Didactic material taken from the lectures, scientific articles.
Testi per approfondimenti/ Texts for further information:
• Athanassiou C. G., Arthur F. H. (Eds.), Recent Advances in Stored Product Protection, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg, 2018. Available at Biblioteca di Reggio Emilia
• D.W. Hagstrum, B. Subramanyam, Fundamentals of Stored Product Entomology. Amer. Assn. of Cereal Chemists Ed., 2008. Available on-line.
• Hill D.E. Kluver, Pests of Stored Foodstuffs and their Control. Academic Publishers, Dordrecht (NL), 2002.
• Domenichini G., Atlante delle impurità solide negli alimenti. (Ed.). Chiriotti Editori, Pinerolo, 1997. Available at Biblioteca di Reggio Emilia