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Safe Recipe Style Guide to Provide Food Safety Instructions in Recipes

(Orlando, FL – March 7, 2019) – At one of our nation’s largest gatherings of food safety professionals today, the Partnership for Food Safety Education (PFSE) launched a new tool that is expected to dramatically improve consumers’ food safety behaviors at home. PFSE announced the release of a new Safe Recipe Style Guide at the 2019 Consumer Food Safety Education Conference where more than 400 public and private sector experts are convened to address how to improve food safety behaviors.

The Safe Recipe Style Guide is designed for use by any recipe writer – professional recipe developers and food journalists – who writes and publicizes recipes for distribution to the public. It provides specific, concise recipe text to address the four major areas of most food safety violations in home kitchens: temperature, handwashing, cross contamination and produce handling. It can be found online at

The new guide was inspired by a study in the Journal of Food Protection1 that shows significant improvement in food safety behavior in home kitchens when recipes contain food safety instructions written into the text. Study author, Sandria Godwin, PhD, RD, from Tennessee State University noted, “We were thrilled to observe that study participants who received recipes with food safety instructions demonstrated significantly improved food safety preparation behaviors compared to those who did not have instructions in the recipes. This told us that the recipes themselves might be one of our best food safety tools.”

“Our challenge was to figure out how to get these simple instructions incorporated into more recipes,” said Shelley Feist, executive director of the PFSE. “That’s when we came up with the idea to provide food editors with a recipe writing style guide – just like the AP Stylebook – only this guide would provide easy ways to incorporate food safety instructions.”

The exact wording was crafted under the guidance of food safety experts and honed with the direction of leading food journalists. It is intended as a supplement to the AP Stylebook, the definitive resource for journalists that provides fundamental guidelines for spelling, language, punctuation, usage and journalistic style.

“For more than 20 years, federal agencies, voluntary organizations, and elements of the food industry have worked to educate consumers about safe food handling practices,” said Susan Mayne, Ph.D., Director, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “We applaud the non-profit Partnership for Food Safety Education and its partners for their efforts in developing standards for inclusion of food safety steps in recipes and, going forward, their work with organizations like the Association of Food Journalists and the Associated Press Stylebook to explain the public health rationale for inclusion of food safety information in recipes and the need for food editors and food writers to adopt them.”

“Consumers play a key role when it comes to preventing foodborne illness and keeping their families safe and healthy” said Mindy Brashears, Ph.D., Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety at USDA. “The research is clear – consumers do not wash their hands at critical steps of food preparation, which can lead to cross-contamination of harmful bacteria. The more information that we can provide to help consumers, the better they are able to prevent foodborne illness.”

Food journalists involved in the creation and development of the Safe Recipe Style Guide offered generous praise for the concept and verbiage chosen. “There is no time better than right now for this kind of recipe format update,” said Heather McPherson, food writer, cookbook author and past president of the Association of Food Journalists. “I do think consumers will react positively. Even if some don’t embrace it right away, when they continue to see the language in recipes it will eventually sink in.”

PFSE plans a year-long roll-out of the Style Guide, to educate the media and food industry about the new guidelines, and the potential public health benefits of their use. “We will be meeting with prominent food publications and speaking at food industry conferences in the coming months,” Feist continued. “In addition, we have a team in place that can review and update existing recipes, to bring them into compliance with these important new food safety guidelines.”

The funding for this Safe Recipe Style Guide was provided by the Food Marketing Institute Foundation. “We see this initiative as an extension of our National Family Meals Month movement,” said Susan T. Borra, executive director of the FMI Foundation. “This will help to ensure that Americans can enjoy one more family meal at home each week – safely! It certainly is a win-win for all involved.”


For more than 20 years, PFSE has led the charge on educating consumers about safe food handling practices – Clean, Separate, Cook, Chill – in the United States. It is comprised of 28 partner organizations including consumer groups, food industry associations, commodity groups, and professional associations in health and the sciences, as well as Federal liaisons with the USDA, FDA and CDC. It supports an active network of 13,000 health and food safety educators, called BAC Fighters, who deliver trusted, science-based behavioral health messaging to millions of consumers.

The Food Marketing Institute Foundation operates for charitable, educational and scientific purposes. The FMI Institute is the creator of National Family Meals Month.

1. J Food Prot. 2016 Aug;79(8):1436-9, Recipe Modification Improves Food Safety Practices during Cooking of Poultry. Maughan C, Godwin S, Chambers D, Chambers E I

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