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Posts tagged: Food Safety Working Group

Using Emerging Media at USDA to Improve Food Safety

Using social media and other new digital technologies to reach the public with critical food safety messages is a key mandate of the year-old President’s Food Safety Working Group. As demonstrated at a panel at USDA’s Food Safety Education Conference in Atlanta, the government is responding vigorously to the charge.
Representatives of the Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and USDA spoke about how emerging digital and social media such as Twitter, Facebook and blogs are being used to educate the public about food safety.

“Using social media helps us reach many more people than we can using only conventional channels,” USDA Director of New Media Amanda Eamich told attendees at a panel titled “Using Social Media.” “Social media lets us multiply our reach.”

The panelists described social media such as Facebook and Twitter as a public “conversation” among users. The government can better serve the public by listening to and participating in that conversation, Eamich said. USDA uses the Twitter profile @usdafoodsafety to send recall and food safety messages to more than 25,000 followers.

In a recent campaign, USDA sent out Tweets during the run-up to the Super Bowl about preparing buffet and party food safely. By using a tag followed by Twitterers discussing the Super Bowl, “We were able to remind people to cook their burgers to 160 degrees,  as part of their existing conversations about the game,” she said.

Part of the mandate of the Food Safety Working Group was to update www.foodsafety.gov into a “one-stop shop” for consumer information on food safety. The three agencies have collaborated to create a vibrant consumer-friendly site that employs Twitter and a blog.

The panel listed a wide variety of digital technologies now being used to distribute food safety messages to diverse audiences:

  • “e-cards”—colorful e-mail greetings that include a variety of public health messages
  • Facebook pages
  • YouTube videos
  • podcasts
  • Web pages optimized for mobile phones
  • Text messaging services and e-mail alerts
  • Widgets that allow people to get live product recall information sent directly to their desktops or to their own web pages
  • Click here for links to all USDA new media. You can follow @USDAgov on Twitter for all Department information. USDA’s food safety Twitter feed is @usdafoodsafety.

    By Craig Stoltz, Web Director, Food Safety and Inspection Service

    Making America’s Food Safety System Stronger

    Last week some of the nation’s top leaders in food safety gathered at the Agricultural Outlook Forum in Arlington, Virginia, for a session called “Strengthening America’s Food Safety System.”

    USDA’s Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Jerold Mande led the panel discussions. The wide-ranging conversation included Food Safety and Inspection Service Administrator Al Almanza, along with consumer advocates from the Consumer Federation of America and the Pew Health Group’s Food Safety Campaign, industry representatives from the National Meat Association and Cargill Inc., and state and federal public health officials.

    To kick off the session, Mande outlined the three principles of the President’s Food Safety Working Group: prioritizing prevention of foodborne illness; strengthening surveillance and enforcement; and improving recovery and response when incidents occur.

    Here are a few things that we’re doing at USDA every day to work toward reducing foodborne illnesses:

    - In July, the Working Group released its Key Findings that included 15 key actions to improve the nation’s food safety.  We have completed over half and are on schedule to implement them all.

    - Secretary Vilsack has made food safety research a high priority, including a new Institute for Food Safety Research and an expanded research budget.

    - Later this year, USDA will launch the Public Health Information System, a dynamic new data analytics system that will revolutionize FSIS’s ability to detect and respond to foodborne hazards.

    “We must do everything in our power to provide our citizens safe food,” Mande said, “starting with unprecedented cooperation among federal agencies, state partners, industry, and consumers.” He emphasized that this session showed this kind of effort.

    If you’re not already, follow us on Twitter for the latest food safety tips and latest news and head over to FoodSafety.gov for comprehensive consumer food safety information from across government agencies.

    Deputy Under Secretary Jerold Mande
    Food Safety Inspection Service Deputy Under Secretary, Jerold Mande on the panel at the USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum.

    By Craig Stoltz, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Web Manager