Learn safe food handling, prep methods

URBANA, Ill. - Approximately one in six Americans gets a foodborne illness each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Foodborne illnesses are not a minor inconvenience. In fact, the CDC estimates that foods contaminated with viruses, bacteria, and other microorganisms and improper food handling practices lead to 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths each year.

A majority of reported foodborne outbreaks are associated with foods sold from food manufacturers and foods prepared in restaurants and other food establishments. While not as often reported, foodborne illness does happen in homes and local non-restaurant locations, such as churches. In 2015, an outbreak of botulism occurred at an Ohio church, sickening 29 and killing one. The botulism was traced to homemade potato salad made from potatoes that were not properly canned, served at the church potluck. 

Food safety knowledge and practices are needed at all levels of food production, including from volunteers. Whether preparing and serving food at private meetings and gatherings, or serving food to the public, knowledge of proper food safety practices and public health regulations are necessary to protect communities from foodborne illness.

Serving Safe Food for Groups is a free, self-paced, online training written for volunteers who prepare and serve food at events and programs. The training covers topics such as garden safety, food safety in the kitchen and at events, food allergies, and modeling good nutrition.

Register online. This training does not meet the requirements for Illinois Certified Food Protection Manager training or Food Handlers certification.

ABOUT EXTENSION: Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and communities to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities. 

Source: Caitlin Mellendorf, MS, RD, nutrition and wellness educator
Source: Jenna Smith, MPH, RD, nutrition and wellness educator