Food Safety from Farm to Fork

Posted: November 20, 2016

As the holiday season approaches, millions of Americans will be prepping, cooking, eating and cleaning up holiday feasts. With all the hustle and bustle that surround these events, sometimes food safety can take a back seat.
Partnership for Food Safety Education

Partnership for Food Safety Education

This year the Partnership for Food Safety Education plans to support all the home cooks out there in getting a safe and healthy meal on the table with a campaign called “The Story of Your Dinner.” During the holiday season, more people are cooking at home and for larger numbers of people which means more food with a large number of different foods being prepared at the same time and/or preparing more complex recipes. All of this creates unique food safety challenges not necessarily encountered on a daily basis. Plus the fact that one in six people become sick from a foodborne illness each year, makes it a perfect time to remind folks about the importance of safe food handling for good health.

“The Story of Your Dinner” focuses on the many food safety steps taken from farm and processing to retail and finally in the home kitchen – that last stop in the food safety chain! It is really as simple as following the four key food safety practices of Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill.

Clean: Wash hands and surfaces often. Remember you should wash your hands with hot water and soap for at least 20 seconds as you get ready to prepare food, when you change tasks, after coughing or sneezing, using the restroom or any time your hands become contaminated. During this time, consider drying your hands with a paper towel rather than a cloth towel to prevent the spread of bacteria.

Another tip when it comes to clean, you do not need to “wash/rinse” your turkey before cooking. Rinsing under running water increases the risk of cross contamination as water droplets splatter onto kitchen surfaces that may not then be properly cleaned and sanitized. Carefully un-package your turkey and if you must, just pat with paper towels, being sure to dispose of these properly.

Separate: Keep raw products separated from ready to eat foods to prevent contamination. This includes during storage in the refrigerator and during preparation. Keep raw meats in containers that will prevent juices from dripping on other foods. When preparing foods consider using separate cutting boards for raw and ready to eat items and/or prepping these foods at different times.

Cook: Cook to the recommended safe internal temperatures and use a food thermometer to check that the correct temperature has been reached. For turkey the correct temperature is 165°F. You can always cook to a higher temperature but this is the minimum that should be reached.

Chill: Refrigerate or freeze foods promptly, especially for leftovers. Leftover items should be refrigerated within two hours, so put everyone to work cleaning up before sitting down to dessert!

The "Story of Your Dinner" website has links to many recipes you might want to try, as well as activity placemats for kids, a turkey hand and health activity and a video about the chain of prevention from farm to table.

This last thing anyone wants is to become sick over the holidays! Even if you have been doing this for a long time and no one has ever gotten sick, it is better to be safe than sorry – so remember to Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill for a great holiday season!

Contact Information

Sharon McDonald, MEd, RD, LDN
  • Extension Educator, Food Safety & Quality
Phone: 814-865-6953