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ABSTRACT:  To create effective educational interventions that address the food safety informational needs of youth, a greater understanding of their knowledge and skills is needed. The purposes of this study were to explore, via focus groups, the food-handling responsibilities of middle school youth and obstacles they face in practicing safe food handling and develop recommendations for the design of food safety interventions for youth. Most youth reported that they prepared food at least once weekly and rated learning to prevent foodborne illness as important. Youth knew that food could make them sick, described foodborne illness as resulting from “something” getting into food, not cooking food “right,” or the food going bad. Most responses lacked details, suggesting knowledge was basic. Nearly all were interested in learning about food safety. Barriers that deterred them from learning about food safety were time and feeling they were not susceptible to foodborne illness. To overcome barriers, youth suggested focusing on the seriousness of and risks for foodborne illness, using a serious but comical educational approach, and using hands-on educational media. Parents highly rated the importance of and degree to which they wanted youth to learn about food safety. Parents felt that their children had moderate levels of food safety knowledge, but many questioned whether they practiced food safety procedures when unsupervised. Parents felt that food safety education needed to be taught and reinforced in school and at home. After having reviewed youth and parent data, food safety experts proposed recommendations for youth-focused food safety education that paralleled current consumer food safety initiatives.