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Mary Yavelak, MS

Extension Associate, Food Safety

4101 Beryl Road, Suite 220


Mary Yavelak is a Food Safety Extension Associate at North Carolina State University specializing in the application of health behavior science in consumer and retail food safety education and training. Mary is the retail program coordinator for the Safe Plates Brand at NC State, which includes programs for food managers and food handlers, and manages the NC State Retail HACCP course offered to regulators and industry professionals across the U.S. With a passion for risk communication, Mary combines her training in Food Science and Health Psychology to research behaviors and design interventions to effectively reduce risky food safety behaviors among food handlers.

Programs and Initiatives

  • Safe Plates for Food Managers
  • Safe Plates for Food Handlers
  • Safe Plates for School Nutrition Staff
  • Validation and Verification of HACCP Plans in Retail Food Establishments

Contributing Websites

Professional Honors/Offices/Recognitions

  • 2022 – NC Extension Association of Family & Consumer Sciences (NCEAFCS) Food Safety Award, 2nd place
  • 2022 – NCEAFCS Communications Internet Education Technology Award, 1st Place
  • 2020 – NCEAFCS Communications Internet Education Technology Award, 2nd Place
  • 2020 – North Carolina Association of Cooperative Extension Specialists – Outstanding Subject Matter Program developed by a Specialist or Program Team Award
  • 2020 – NCEAFCS Food Safety Award, 2nd Place

Selected Publications

  • Yavelak M, Cope S, Hochstein J, Chapman B. Assessing the Usage of Food Thermometers at American University Football Tailgates. Food Protection Trends. 2018. 38:8–17.
  • Arnold, N, Rupert C, Overdiep J, Yavelak M, Cope S, Porter K, Boyer R, Chapman B. (2018). Prevalence and Conditions of Mechanical Tenderization and Enhancement of Beef at Independent and Minor Chain Meat Retailers in North Carolina. Food Protection Trends. 38:171–177.
  • Levine K, Yavelak M, Luchansky JB, Porto-Fett ACS, Chapman B. Consumer Perceptions of the Safety of Ready-to-Eat Foods in Retail Food Store Settings. J Food Prot. 2017 Aug;80(8):1364-1377. doi: 10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-16-417. PMID: 28722484.


BS Food Science, Minor in Microbiology NC State University

MS Food Science, Minor in Psychology NC State University

Area(s) of Expertise

  • Retail Food Safety
  • Program Planning, Implementation and Evaluation
  • Science Communication
  • Health Behavior Programming