North Dakota Nutrition Council


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North Dakota Teens are Serving Foods More Safely

ND Teens Serving Food Safely
ND Teens Serving Food Safely
Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., NDSU Extension Service Food and Nutrition Specialist

Teen food handlers play a major role in preparing food at home and in commercial food service establishments. In fact, a job at the local café or fast-food establishment is often the first employment experience for many teens.

“Teens Serving Food Safely” is a statewide food safety education effort the NDSU Extension Service conducts in cooperation with high school family and consumer sciences teachers, with outreach to parents. The five lessons teach the four steps to food safety: clean, separate/don’t cross-contaminate, cook and chill. The program received the Central Region and National first place award for food safety education from the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences in 2013.

The North Dakota Nutrition Council and the North Dakota Beef Commission have provided funding to help defray the costs of food safety kits for the participating students. The kits include food thermometers and other tools for students to use at home.

More than 8,200 students have participated in the program, which is taught in high school classrooms throughout North Dakota in cooperation with Family and Consumer Sciences teachers. Students have improved their scores from an average of 56 percent correct to 85 percent correct. As measured by follow-up surveys with more than 4,700 students, 81 percent reported washing their hands more often during food preparation, 67 percent were more careful about cleaning and sanitizing, 38 percent had applied what they learned when preparing food for the public, 22 percent had used a food thermometer more often and 23 percent had checked the refrigerator and freezer temperatures more often.

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