Food safety for families

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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WASHINGTON – Incidents of foodborne illness tend to rise along with summer temperatures, and the US Department of Agriculture and other agencies want consumers to be prepared.

USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service, along with the Ad Council, US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have launched a new online recipe tool that automatically inserts food-safety steps into user recipes.

"With so many people planning to picnic and barbecue during hot summer weather this summer, it's never been more important to empower them with food safety resources," said Maria Malagon, director, Food Safety Education at USDA. "Consumer education is critical to the prevention of foodborne illness and our targeted outreach aims to motivate Americans to both learn and practice key steps which will keep their families safe."

The Food Safe Families campaign educates consumers to follow safe food handling behaviors such as hand washing; using separate plates and utensils for raw foods and ready-to-eat foods; cooking foods to proper temperatures; using food thermometers; and chilling foods promptly if not consuming immediately after cooking.

The campaign is presented in English and Spanish and features television, radio, print and Web advertising along with digital and social media programs.

The online recipe tool is part of the national Food Safe Families campaign, a multimedia initiative created to raise awareness about food safety and the risks of foodborne illness so that families can take steps to protect themselves. The campaign, launched in 2011 has received more than $83 million in donated media while the campaign website, FoodSafety.gov has garnered more than 15 million visitors.

An estimated 48 million Americans suffer from food poisoning each year, resulting in roughly 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. FDA research found most consumers do not know how to properly check if a burger is safe to eat. Foodborne illnesses tend to spike during the summer, according to public health officials, because bacteria thrive and multiply more rapidly in warm weather.
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