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Publication #FAR8701

Food Safety: Strategies for Families1

Amy Simonne and Donna Davis2

Living in Europe many years ago, I remember being struck by the instruction to wash all our fresh fruits and vegetables in Clorox® before we ate them! Yuck! Did we want to take the risk of consuming germs or eating dangerous by-products of bleach? Neither one was very appetizing. My mom opted for germs and apparently we survived.

With so many options for consumers at the grocery store or your favorite farmer's market, how can you know that your food is safe? Consumers can avoid foodborne illness by following a few simple recommendations: wash your hands, clean food contact surfaces often, wash fruits and vegetables (no bleach necessary), and don't wash meat or poultry. Separate raw, cooked, and ready-to-eat foods while shopping, preparing, or storing foods. Also, cook foods to a safe temperature to kill microorganisms, using a food thermometer. A list of safe cooking tempeatures for meat, poultry, fish, etc., can be found at the USDA website ( or at your local county Extension service.

Other important steps to insure food safety include refrigerating perishable foods promptly and defrosting foods properly. Consumers need to also understand that new food safety information is constantly emerging. Recommendations and precautions, particularly for people at high risk, are updated as scientists understand more about preventing foodborne illness.

Listening, learning, and living together: it's the science of life. "Family Album" is a co-production of University of Florida IFAS Extension, the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, and of WUFT-FM. If you'd like to learn more, please visit our website at

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This document is FAR8701, one of a series of the Family Youth and Community Sciences Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Broadcast as program 096 and published December 2007. Reviewed January 2015. In the interest of time and/or clarity, the broadcast version of this script may have been modified. Visit the EDIS website at


Amy Simonne, associate professor, and Donna Davis, Senior Producer, Family Album Radio, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.