Food Safety Checklist for College Students

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Preparing for college can be overwhelming. Between saying farewell to close friends and making sure you’ve packed your life away, it’s easy to overlook a few things during the big move. We know you have created a laundry list of essentials to bring along on this new journey. But there’s one thing you have more than likely forgotten—food safety!

With tons of social activities going on like football games and late night study sessions, it can be easy to forget about food safety, but there is nothing worse than missing out on that huge championship game or major exam because you are sick from foodborne illness. *inserts sad face emoji*

Well, we’ve got you covered! To make your college eating experiences as safe as possible, simply print off this checklist and be on your way!

Checklist to a Food Safe Semester

  • The FoodKeeper & Ask Karen Apps – Two super helpful apps that can answer all your food safety questions when mom or dad’s not picking up.
  • Hand sanitizer/wipes – At a concession stand or waiting in line at the dining hall, these are perfect last-minute germ killers when you don’t have access to running water.
  • Insulated bag & gel ice packs – for those all-nighters in the library. You’ll definitely need fuel, so save money and pack a snack like tuna sandwiches or fresh fruit. 
  • Food thermometer – Sometimes you’ll get tired of eating campus food and want to whip something up in the dorm kitchen. Make sure you’re cooking to the right temperature so you don’t make yourself or your roommates sick.
  • Is it Done Yet? – In the mood for a burger or some grilled chicken breast? You can’t tell if meat is done by looking at it. Email to get a magnet that you can stick on the dorm fridge to remind you of safe internal temps.*
  • The Kitchen Companion – Looking for a safety “one stop shop?” This free booklet has everything you need to know about food safety..*

*To order your free food safety materials call 1-888-MPHotline or email!

A Few More Quick Tips to Have Food Safety at Your Fingertips

  • Clean. Wash hands and surfaces often while preparing and cooking food.
  • Separate. Don’t cross-contaminate. Keep raw meat, poultry, eggs and seafood, and their juices, away from ready-to-eat foods.
  • Cook. Raw meat, poultry, seafood and egg products need to be cooked to the right temperature. Use a food thermometer to ensure foods have reached a high enough temperature to kill any harmful bacteria that may be present.
  • Chill. Refrigerate food promptly before and after cooking. Do not leave food at room temperature for more than two hours, or one hour when the outside temperature is above 90°F (32.2°C).

A Note to Parents and Guardians

You’ve worked hard to keep your young adult safe from foodborne illness while at home. Don’t let the efforts stop because they are away at college. Stay up-to-date on the latest food safety information, including food recalls, by subscribing to USDA’s automatic recall and alert system.

This blog post was written by Janell Goodwin, Technical Information Specialist, Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA.