Photo:United States Department of Agriculture
As identified in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 1 in 6 people develop a foodborne illness each year, making food safety an important public health priority. The 2016 Food Safety Survey Report indicates that while consumers were knowledgeable about safe food handling practices, this knowledge did not always translate into safe behaviors in the home. Observational studies of consumers also indicate two key food safety behaviors needing improvement - proper handwashing at appropriate times and use of a thermometer to check the final cooking temperature of foods.
We know that cooking foods to the proper temperature will destroy harmful bacteria and proper handwashing, before, during and after preparing food, can prevent cross contamination. The question becomes, how do we improve these behaviors in the home? One way may be to include food safety instructions in recipes! According to a study from Kansas State and Tennessee State Universities, when food safety instructions were incorporated into recipes study participants demonstrated better food safety behaviors compared to participants receiving recipes without food safety instructions. Areas of focus were handwashing and thermometer use. Handwashing was significantly higher both before cooking and after handling raw poultry when recipes included instructions as to when and how to wash hands. Likewise, when the recipe included food safety instructions on cooking time and end point temperature for a turkey burger, 86% of participants checked the final temperature of the food with a thermometer compared to only 20% of participants when there were no instructions. Importantly, those in the study felt the recipes were easy to use and appreciated the food safety tips included in the recipes.
Good food handling practices are key to preventing foodborne illness and simple things like proper handwashing and using a thermometer to check the final temperature of foods are just a few of the simple steps you can take in your home to keep food safe for your family. If you are looking to improve your food safety practices, or just looking for a family friendly recipe, check out the recipes for Turkey Meatloaf, Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Maple Syrup Pork Chops and Tex Mex Potato Skins from the Partnership for Food Safety Education.
The Penn State Food Safety and Quality team encourages you to keep food safety in mind this September and throughout the year to keep your family healthy!