Lynn Nakamura-Tengan is an Extension Educator at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Lynn and her team at the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources developed and disseminated information on Germ-free Reusable Bags (GRUB) through the Nutrition Education for Wellness website, Hawaii county website, National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences national meeting, workshops, and various community events. Download the flyer here: www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/new/resources/grub_flyer.pdf
Lynn shares the story of “Jan” and how she changed her reusable bags practices after learning about GRUB.
Reusable Bags are Handy for This Volunteer
Jan is an active 72-year-old retired teacher and a volunteer with church and senior groups. She frequently uses her reusable grocery bags to make purchases for her church and for older adults needing assistance with food shopping.
Hot Van + Dirty Bags = Potential Food Safety Risk
Jan kept a handy collection of reusable bags in the back of her van. Her concerns were about the bags tearing and getting worn. She never thought about the food safety risks of cross-contamination when she reused her bags.
Jan saw the GRUB (Germ-free Re-Usable Bags) handout at a supermarket exhibit featuring healthy lifestyles. The display included information about keeping grocery bags clean to prevent cross- contamination. The handout information resonated with Jan and her desire to keep the older adults she serves healthy and safe.
Clean Bags- Help Keep Food Safe
Lynn says, “We help people understand simple steps to keep their food safe and be confident they are doing their best for their family and friends”.
Over the years we have all heard advice related to food safety. Some of this advice rings true, while other guidance is just plain wrong! The Partnership launched Home Food Safety Mythbusters in 2009 to debunk common food safety myths and to give you, the consumer, actionable steps you can follow to protect yourself and your family from food poisoning.
About one in six Americans – 48 million people – will get a foodborne illness this year, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates. We want to help keep you and your loved ones from becoming part of that statistic!
We’ve taken the most persistent home food safety myths from over the years and given them a refresh for 2016! Take a look at the Fight BAC! Top 10 Home Food Safety Myths and Facts by going to http://bit.ly/Top10myths!
Do you have a food safety anecdote that relates to our Top 10 Myths and Facts? Did we bust a myth that you thought was true? Click here to share your story — we’d love to hear from you!
Also, feel free to share these educational materials with other members of your community! Keep Fighting BAC!®
We Fight BAC, Inc. of Memphis, Tennessee is a program developed by BAC Fighter Jean Bridges. Her program started as a USDA Summer Food Service Program, providing a daily meal and snack for Memphis’ disadvantaged children.
Latch-key Kids Need the Core Four
During this work, Jean and her team became concerned that the latch-key kids they were serving did not have even the most basic information about safe food handling. These youngsters were often responsible for preparing meals for themselves and siblings and were at great risk of exposing the entire family to foodborne illnesses.
Jean saw a desperate need for basic home food safety education for these kids…
Food Safety Pros Collaborate
Jean’s program now includes a donated 26-foot mobile teaching RV, staffed with trained food safety ambassadors (volunteers from the Memphis and Shelby County Health Departments and the Tennessee Food Safety Task Force). She is considering having staff become ServSafe-certified instructors and proctors as a way to help fund the outreach.
It’s All About Food Safety
The objectives of the “We Fight BAC” program are to:
- Increase community awareness of food safety and prevention for low-income children and their families.
- Decrease the many cases of foodborne illness that occur as a result of improper food handling and preparation by consumers in their own kitchens.
- Educate children and parents about the four main principals of home food safety – clean, separate, cook and chill.
- Promote USDA’s “Food Safe Families Campaign”
- Increase exposure to Food Safety & Prevention websites, including:
We Fight BAC www.wefightbac.com
USDA Food Safety Education http://1.usa.gov/1tEYVOi
Partnership for Food Safety Education www.fightbac.org
Free Downloads are a Key Resource
We Fight BAC uses many of the free downloads available on the Partnership for Food Safety Education’s Fight BAC website, as well as those from government food safety education sites. She finds these free materials a valuable addition to her outreach.
Go BAC Fighter Jean! BAC doesn’t have a chance against your energy!
Jennifer Jackson of Anne Arundel County Maryland, Department of Aging and Disabilities, shares a BAC Fighter success story from the Older Americans Month Health and Wellness Fair they attended.
Her department set up a table on food safety which included Chelsea the Chicken, a cantaloupe cleaning demonstration, and their Food Safety Trivia Wheel.
An older couple approached their display and spun the Food Safety Trivia Wheel. Jennifer read their trivia question: “During a summer picnic, how long can food be left out before it needs to be refrigerated or thrown away?” The husband answered and said that he thought food could be left out for six hours!
After explaining the correct answer (found on The Partnership for Food Safety Education’s “Chill” handout), he exclaimed, “So, that’s why we all got sick during that trip to the amusement park!”
It turns out that he and his family planned a trip to an amusement park and packed a cooler of barbecue chicken to eat for lunch. The chicken was left in the cooler all day and no one checked to make sure that the temperature was kept out of the danger zone. After eating the chicken for lunch, everyone in his group suffered a bout of food poisoning. He and his wife told me that they would make sure they packed food safely in the future!
Assisted Living Program
Anne Arundel County Department of Aging and Disabilities
BAC Fighter Jean Bridges of Memphis sent us this inspiring story of her employee, “Jeremy.”
In June of 2014, her organization started its’ USDA Summer Food Service Program, serving a free nutritious lunch and snack to more than 2,000 kids a day. They needed to hire and train staff on safe food handling and preparation.
Seventeen year old “Jeremy” was working at a fast food establishment when he came to apply for a food service position. During his interview, he successfully answered all of the food safety questions. He was hired on the spot. Jeremy was an ideal employee in many ways: he arrived at the food preparation site on time and ready to work. During his first week, Jean observed him to be good-natured, motivated, hardworking, and willing to help co-workers.
But Too Many Food Safety “Minuses”
But Jean also observed and addressed some downsides to Jeremy’s habits:
She constantly had to remind him to watch out for cross-contamination. Jeremy was recovering from a cold and wiped his nose with the back of his hand. He would pull up his pants, and have to be reminded to wash his hands and put on new gloves. He was a cigarette smoker and had to be reminded to wash his hands after a restroom or smoke break. Jean seemed to be constantly asking him to go wash his hands.
Jeremy Had to Go
Jean discussed Jeremy’s work performance regarding food safety with her board of directors. It was a tough decision, since he was a good worker, but his performance did not meet the program’s high food safety standards. Jeremy was terminated.
News traveled fast to Jeremy’s co-workers. They were devastated! To help keep morale high, Jean scheduled a food safety training class the following Saturday for the staff, and Jeremy was invited to attend. The class reviewed safe food handling best practices and the potential results of poor food handling, especially since the underserved kids in their program were especially at risk for food borne illness. The class stressed that it was the personal responsibility of each worker to ensure food safety and made it clear that staff must not only learn but put into practice what they learn!
Jean summed up the lesson: Poor food safety practices could result in the death of a hungry child, grateful for a meal!
Jeremy Rides Again!
This time, the teaching “sunk in” for Jeremy. With tears in his eyes he apologized and pleaded for a second chance. Jeremy was given another chance to contribute his efforts to the successful and food safe child feeding program.
Where’s My Boy?
Near the end of the summer program, Jean met Jeremy’s mother. She yelled from across the street “Ms. Jean I need to talk to you!” She was clearly excited. She asked, “What did you do to my boy?” She told Jean that since working with food program Jeremy had become more conscientious when cleaning, handling food, and cooking. He was even careful to put raw meat and lettuce on separate shelves in the refrigerator to prevent cross-contamination. “He now cleans up after cooking. I even caught him peeking around the corner to see if I washed my hands before getting a beverage out the refrigerator,” she said. “He’s going overboard. What did you do, where’s my boy?”
Now Jeremy’s the Teacher
Markova Reed of CBS Channel 3 Memphis and host of the show “Bright Spot”, heard about the success of the program. She contacted Jean for an interview. Ms. Reed was particularly interested in the program’s emphasis on food safety. The cameraman asked how they managed to keep all eight sites clean, and a worker responded “we try and prevent foodborne illnesses.” Then Jeremy chimed in: “We told the kids to say please and thank you and they had to use the hand sanitizer placed on the table, and discard empty bags in the trash after they finished their lunch.”
Food Safety Success
Jean sums up her experience, “This has led to my becoming an avid BAC Fighter, modifying our focus and organization name to “We Fight BAC, Inc.” That’s my success story!”
Jean Bridges, MPA, MBA, MPM
Executive Director, We Fight BAC, Inc.
P.O. Box 750784, Memphis, TN 38175