The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) ensures that America’s meat, poultry, and processed egg products are safe and wholesome. Educating the public on proper food handling practices is a core agency mission as well. It’s even more important when one considers the impact safe food handling practices have on children.
With a generation of children brought up relating the word “celebrity” to chefs just as readily as they do to athletes, food safety education has a more receptive audience among teens and young adults than ever before. With the help of parents and guardians, the current generation of children could have fewer preventable cases of foodborne illness than ever before.
The four food safety steps of Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill from the Food Safe Families campaign are key to achieving this goal and are easily taught to children. But we need your help getting those four words to become part of the lexicon of every American. Go ahead, say it with me: Clean, Separate, Cook, Chill; Clean, Separate, Cook, Chill. Say it when you prepare every meal and demonstrate it to your children.
If you have questions, FSIS provides a number of resources that can provide answers. For consumer information about preventing foodborne illness, safe food handling and storage, and the safe preparation of meat, poultry and eggs, you can go on-line and ask Karen, FSIS’ food safety avatar. Ask Karen is an automated system containing answers to thousands of typical hotline questions with live chat available during specified weekday hours. Ask Karen is also available as a mobile app, available for Android and iOS devices.
Another resource is the Meat and Poultry hotline, where our food safety experts can personally answer your questions over the phone, live chat or through email on topics including safe food handling, product dating, product content, power outages and more. The hotline can be reached at 1-888-MPHotline (674-6854) or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
But wait. Like a late-night infomercial, there’s more. The agency’s food safety education exhibit, known as the Food Safety Discovery Zone (FSDZ), will be traveling to state and county fairs, community health fairs, festivals, and a host of other public events. When it stops, unpacks and opens its doors, volunteers greet visitors and pass out a variety of materials including coloring books, story books and food safety education pamphlets. The schedule will soon be posted on the agency’s website and tweeted from @USDAFoodSafety.
Whether in person at your local fairground, through a game on your iPhone or hopefully because Clean, Separate, Cook, Chill is now stuck in your head, FSIS is trying get the word out on safe food handling. We’ll continue to keep the meat heading to the supermarket and restaurants safe and wholesome; however, from there, we need your help.