SafeFood© and the Cookie Walk

One of the women’s magazines did a poll of their readers and found 71% were planning to give some type of home-cooked/prepared food gifts this holiday season. That is a lot, and good news that people know what to do in the kitchen – as other reports show increasing decline in basic cooking skills. I hope that those who are preparing these gifts follow the fundamentals of SafeFood© preparation: wash hands often and well; clean counters and equipment with clean sponges and towels; and avoid contamination of the goodies.

  • The first one is easy – it is just a matter of being intentional (wash hands with soap rather than licking them clean).
  • The second one also is easily taken care of with good planning and stocking of supplies.
  • The third one may require some supervision as it is hard to keep others away from the good smells.
    • Strategize tactics on keeping everyone busy and happy while keeping the food safe.
    • Make it mandatory for everyone involved to wash their hands properly as soon as they enter the area and to put on a clean apron.
    • Lay in a supply of plastic gloves for helpers to wear as they frost cookies or package sugared pecans. Norovirus is the leading cause of foodborne illnesses. Only a few of these viral cells are needed to cause illness – and it is highly contagious and very hardy. When hands aren’t washed properly (at the proper times and using proper procedures), and foods that are ready to eat are touched, the transfer of the viral cells can occur.
    • Designate a sampling break to avoid the nibbling – and transfer of saliva, which is where staphylococcus aureus can be found, to the food. I heard once that eating or licking fingers and then touching food is the same as licking the food. Think about that as you slave in the kitchen preparing these treats.

Your friends are lucky to receive these – do your part to be sure you aren’t gifting a food borne illness as a bonus!



Catherine Hemphill Strohbehn has been a faculty member at Iowa State University in the Hospitality Management Program for 30 years. She is a State Specialist with Human Sciences Extension and Outreach at Iowa State University. As part of her work, she conducts research, develops educational materials and provides programs to help retail foodservices use their resources effectively and ensure safe food is served. Cathy is a registered dietitian with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and a Certified Professional in Food Safety from the National Environmental Health Association.

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