By: Hilary Thesmar, PhD, RD, FMI Vice President, Food Safety Programs, Food Marketing Institute Cooking At Home

Family meals eaten at home have been proven to benefit the health and wellness of children and adolescents, to fight obesity, substance abuse and to make families stronger—creating a positive impact on our communities and our nation as a whole. 

To many the task of preparing a family meal can be overwhelming, even more so if one is not comfortable in the kitchen.  Fifty years ago, home economics classes were a part of the regular course schedule of high school students; today, few, if any, high school students are being taught on how to prepare meals in order to feed their future families. 

As a result, questions like:  how do I know when my chicken is done?; how do I wash my produce?; is rinsing my cutting board enough for cleaning?; how do I know what needs to be refrigerated and what can be left out?; how long can I keep my leftovers?; are just a few of the many questions consumers are asking when it comes to food preparation.

Foods prepared in the home have been associated with large numbers of foodborne illness.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, private homes are the second most common location for foodborne illness outbreaks to occur.  A majority of the foodborne illnesses can be attributed to improper food handling, of which a large number occur in the home.

Food retailers are increasingly seen as a healthful resource when it comes to mealtime solutions with 45 percent of shoppers view their grocery store as an ally in supporting health and wellness goals (FMI Trends, 2015).  Retailers are committed to food safety and promoting one more family meal at home.  National Family Meals Month™ provides retailers the perfect opportunity to simultaneously promote family meals but to also educate customers on food safety. 

Supermarkets offer shopper solutions to combat barriers that challenge the goal of having one more family meal per week.  Among those solutions, supermarkets offer strategies for shoppers to safely prepare meals at home—strategies for meal planning and shopping, proper food handling and preparation techniques, when to clean the kitchen, and ideas for what to do with those leftovers.

This September, we encourage you to demonstrate your commitment to food safety by helping your customers understand how to properly clean, separate, cook, and chill.

Want ideas to help show your commitment to food safety?  Check out these resources available to you.