University of Massachusetts Amherst

It's MORE Than A Meal

Keep Foods Safe to Eat

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why is food safety so important?

Translations of Fact Sheet

For older adults, eating foods with harmful bacteria can cause serious illness or death. Handle foods properly to help keep them safe to eat.  

at the grocery store

  • Buy pasteurized milk and juice.
  • Don’t buy unpasteurized milk, unpasteurized juice, soft cheeses, or raw sprouts. These foods can be unsafe for older adults.
  • Don’t buy foods in containers that are damaged.
  • Choose cold and frozen foods just before checking out.
  • Keep cold and frozen foods chilled on the way home, or head straight for home so cold foods stay as cold as possible.

At Home


  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before handling foods.
  • Wash utensils, knives, and cutting boards in hot soapy water.


  • Use a separate cutting board for raw meat, poultry, and seafood.
  • Don’t thaw frozen foods on the counter. Defrost them in the refrigerator or microwave oven. Then cook them immediately.  


  • Cook meats, poultry, seafood, and eggs thoroughly. Use a food thermometer to check the temperature.
  • Put cooked foods in the refrigerator if they won’t be eaten right away.


  • Keep foods cold in a refrigerator set between 35 and 40 degrees F.
  • Use a refrigerator thermometer daily to check the temperature.

wash your hands

Wash your hands BEFORE you prepare food.

Wash your hands AFTER you…

  1. Touch uncooked meat, poultry, fish, or eggs.
  2. Touch soiled plates, utensils, or equipment.
  3. Touch your nose or any part of your body.
  4. Sneeze or cough.
  5. Stop preparing food to answer the phone.
  6. Eat or smoke.
  7. Use the toilet.
  8. Take out the trash.

how to wash your hands

Before you touch food, follow these 4 simple steps:

1. Wet your hands with warm, running water. wet hands   3. Rinse your hands well. rinse hands
2. Add soap and rub your hands to make a lather. soap hands   4. Dry your hands with a clean towel. drying hands

for more information


Gateway to Government Food Safety Information


  • Fight BAC! Keep Foods Safe from Bacteria. Partnership for Food Safety Education, 2004. Website: (accessed March 2006).
  • Wash Hands. University of Massachusetts Extension NEP, 1999.

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Developed for the Massachusetts Department of Education Child and Adult Care Food Program by the University of Massachusetts Extension Nutrition Education Program. Permission is hereby granted by the Massachusetts Department of Education to copy any or all parts of this document for non-commercial educational purposes. The Massachusetts Department of Education, an Affirmative Action employer, is committed to ensuring that all of its programs and facilities are accessible to all members of the public. We do not discriminate on the basis of age, color, disability, national origin, race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation.