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College of Human Ecology

April is Food Safety Month

Monday, March 26, 2007

MANHATTAN -- What you don't know about food safety can hurt you, according to Kevin Roberts, an instructor in the department of hotel, restaurant, institution management and dietetics at Kansas State University's College of Human Ecology.

The department will launch a four-week food safety campaign at K-State beginning April 2 to promote food safety among college students.

"Each week throughout the month of April, we will target one of the key areas of food safety -- clean, cook, chill and leftovers," Roberts said. "We are targeting young adults at K-State in order to promote safe food practices. Many of these young adults are responsible for preparing their own meals for the first time when they come to college."

Funding for the project comes from a $5,000 grant for food safety education on campus from Rutgers University as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service.

April 2-6 will be the "Do not be caught dirty handed!" campaign, which will use a Glo Germ Box kit to illustrate safe hand-washing practices. The kit will be available all week from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the K-State Student Union and from 6-8 p.m. at the Chester E. Peters Recreational Complex.

"Rutgers University researchers based this campaign on a study that found young adults were observed performing only 25 percent of recommended hand-washing practices, which includes washing hands prior to beginning to cook, when switching from one task to another -- for example, switching from handling raw chicken to handling bread -- and after talking on the phone or smoking," Roberts said.

April 9-13 will be the "When the temp is right, take a bite!" campaign, which will focus on educating students on the correct end-point cooking temperatures of food products and promoting the use of food thermometers.

Students will be invited to a cookout from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, April 11, in the Justin Hall courtyard to observe firsthand how to effectively take the temperature of a ground beef patty.

"The Rutgers researchers found that almost no young adults had thermometers in their kitchen," Roberts said. "Many students and adults think that if they cook hamburgers until they are no longer pink in the middle, they are safe, but in reality, the color of the meat is not a good indication that the ground beef has been cooked to the proper internal temperature. Food thermometers are essential for safe food preparation."

April 16-20 will be the "Are you cool enough?" campaign, which will focus on keeping your refrigerator between 32 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Students will be invited to "Chillin' with Willie" from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, April 18, on the Union's Bosco Plaza for free water bottles with tips on proper refrigeration.

"Since many students don't have thermometers at home, they could be storing food in their refrigerator at unsafe temperatures," Roberts said.

April 23-27 will be the "Leftovers help keep you alive, but only if you reheat 'em to 165!" campaign, which will focus on the proper storage and reheating of leftovers. A Food Safety Carnival will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, April 25, in the Union. The carnival includes the displays from the previous weeks' campaigns, as well as the final display on how to properly cover and store food, including labeling, dating and organizing leftovers.

"We know that we are not going to teach the students at K-State everything they need to know about food safety through this campaign, but we hope this program will teach them some of the important things," Roberts said.

"If nothing else, it will make them aware that food safety is a critical issue in the United States and is not something to be ignored."

Source: Kevin Roberts, 785-532-2399, kevrob@k-state.edu
News release prepared by: Sara Shellenberger, 785-532-6415, media@k-state.edu

This article was posted on Monday, March 26, 2007, and is filed under Hospitality Management.