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Author(s): Nancy Moreno, PhD, and Barbara Tharp, MS.

Safe Food Preparation

Simple precautions during food preparation can help to keep foods free of bacteria, and also help to reduce the consumption of chemicals applied to fruits and vegetables. Some important food preparation tips include the following.

  • Always rinse fruits and vegetables, and after handling raw meat, fish or poultry. 
  • Always wash hands before preparing any food. 
  • Always wash cooking utensils, such as knives and cutting boards, in hot, soapy water. 
  • Clean cutting boards and work surfaces with a 1:10 bleach and cold water solution to kill bacteria. 
  • Always wash cutting boards between preparing different food items. 
  • Cook all meats, fish, eggs and poultry thoroughly. 
  • Use ground meats within 24 hours of purchase (or freeze them) and cook thoroughly. 
  • In home gardens, use pesticides as sparingly as possible. 
  • Avoid eating fish and seafood from polluted water.

This activity will allow students to observe safe food preparation practices while making a fun treat—ice cream!

Complete instructions for conducting activities in this slide set, including materials needed, setup instructions, student sheets (in English and in Spanish), answer keys and extensions, can be found in The Science of Food Teacher’s Guide, which is available free-of-charge at


1. Before beginning, have students talk about ways they can keep food clean during preparation. List their ideas on the board. If necessary, mention additional points listed above to complete the discussion.

Note: For more information about food and food safety, including free food safety charts, visit the “Keep Food Safe” section of the website.

Funded by the following grant(s)

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH

My Health My World: National Dissemination
Grant Number: 5R25ES009259
The Environment as a Context for Opportunities in Schools
Grant Number: 5R25ES010698, R25ES06932

Houston Endowment Inc.

Foundations for the Future: Capitalizing on Technology to Promote Equity, Access and Quality in Elementary Science Education