The USDA’s Food Safety Discovery Zone (FSDZ) concluded its 2010 tour season on November 13, 2010 at the National Science Teachers Association Area Conference, in Baltimore, MD. “How can I get this to my school and how much does it cost?” was the main question asked by the 2,617 educators who visited the FSDZ during the conference.
Beginning with its launch on the National Mall during Public Service Recognition Week in May, The Discovery Zone completed a successful, entertaining and educational tour of 16 states and the District of Columbia. Staffed by officers from the US Public Health Service (PHS), the Discovery Zone educated over 400,000 consumers on the four basic steps to preventing foodborne illness: Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill. Visitors to the Discovery Zone were attracted to the colorful designs that included life-size characters Thermy™ and BAC® mascots for USDA’s “Is It Done Yet” food thermometer campaign and the PFSE’s national food safety campaign. Visitors to the Discovery Zone were greeted by the brightly colored, fun-house kitchen with four learning stations that demonstrate food safety behaviors promoted by the Be Food Safe Campaign. Children and adults alike loved the “Germs That Glow in the Dark” station, where they learned about the importance of hand washing through ultraviolet lights and a special powder that simulates germs present on improperly washed hands.
The Discovery Zone has received numerous accolades and has received over 200 requests for the 2011 tour schedule. One of the visitors to tour the FSDZ was the U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin. She and her staff appreciated the educational value of this transportable fun-house kitchen, and the dedication of its Public Health Service staff.
At the conclusion of the Discovery Zone’s final event of the 2010 season, staff members compared notes on their favorite event of the tour. Lt. Cmdr. Sherry Spriggs’ favorite 2010 event was the Fresh Farm Market by the White House, “participants consisted of young professionals who were very receptive to the Be Food Safe Campaign message. I felt as if the folks walked away from the Zone with a good knowledge of the proper ways to prepare food safely and seemed to want to really incorporate them in their food prep routine. In a few words, the consumers there “Got the message.”
Lt. Cmdr. Ieshia Jones enjoyed the Iowa State Fair and smaller events that often occurred in rural areas, “The hot, humid weather in Iowa gave our staff a great opportunity to talk about safe food handling practices in temperatures above 90°F. We were able to emphasize USDA’s recommendation to keep foods on ice to maintain a storage temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below.”
Lt. Cmdr. Karen Munoz enjoyed the USA Science and Engineering Festival. She said, “While the FSDZ reinforces safe food handling practices to adult consumers, the staff believes the attractive, kid-oriented vehicle helps “drive home” food safety to children at an impressionable age. Learning these habits at an early age will help them learn life-lessons that they can carry on through adulthood. The lessons learned by children at the USA Science and Engineering Festival hopefully inspired a new generation of scientists.”
The FSDZ staff is in the process of setting the 2011 tour season. If you would like to request a visit, please visit our web site.