WASHINGTON – The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Ad Council have launched a series of public-service announcements aimed at helping consumers have a Thanksgiving holiday free from foodborne illness.

The national Food Safe Families campaign features television, radio, print, outdoor and online PSAs aimed at raising awareness about the risks of foodborne illness and educating consumers about steps they can take to reduce their risk through safe food handling. All campaign elements direct consumers to visit FoodSafety.gov.

“The pathogens that can make those you cook for sick cannot be seen, and that’s what we wanted to show viewers with these new PSAs,” said Maria Malagon, Director of Food Safety Education at USDA. “The dancing microbes really capture the idea that what you can’t see, can hurt you.”

The Food Safe Families campaign was launched in 2011. It is the first joint national multimedia public service campaign designed to help prevent foodborne illness in the home by educating consumers about safe food-handling practices.

“When we did our research on foodborne illnesses, the scientists described their motion as gyrating or dancing. We wanted to show people what they couldn’t normally see — this big germ dance party that could be happening on their food — and play up the tension between cute and creepy,” said Jason Marks, executive creative director at Partners + Napier, an ad agency that created the campaign.