The Partnership for Food Safety Education collaborated with the National Turkey Federation (NTF) on an e-card reminding consumers and food safety educators about safely enjoying poultry products on the grill. The e-card went out to more than 13,000 BAC Fighters (food safety educators) on June 12, 2012. BAC Fighters were lead to several resources for teaching, including a video and a webpage on safe summer grilling, and were reminded to always cook poultry products to 165 °F. NTF, a long-time supporter and partner, sponsored the e-card. Have a safe, tasty summer grilling season while Fighting BAC!®
Dr. Elisabeth Hagen is the former Under Secretary for Food Safety at USDA. She oversees policies and programs at the Food Safety and Inspection Service. Prior to her appointment as Under Secretary in August 2010, she served as USDA’s Chief Medical Officer, advising on a range of issues such as food safety, nutrition, and zoonotic diseases.
To me, there is no more fundamental function of government than to keep its people safe from harm. At the U.S. Department of Agriculture, my job in the Office of Food Safety is to protect the health of more than 300 million Americans through a strong food safety system. I have been personally charged by Secretary Vilsack to look at every possible way to reduce foodborne illness and I am looking forward to working with all of you in executing this critical mission.
Prevention has to be the foundation of everything we do. With that as a foundation, we need to activate the most powerful tools at our disposal, including quality data. We also need to engage and involve people because they are the reason all of this matters.
USDA is committed to a proactive approach to food safety. We are building on the tools we have, and identifying additional ones we need to protect consumers. This includes quick, accurate information around recalls and outbreaks. It also means educating consumers about safe food handling.
People hear stories of foodborne illness, and the next question is always “What can I do? What steps can I do to decrease the risk for my family?” As a mom, I’m always looking for information that will empower me to keep my kids healthy, safe, and happy. When I was in private practice, my patients were always seeking similar information about steps they could take to reduce the risk of preventable diseases. USDA’s food safety education programs, hotlines, online databases, and consumer outreach materials are all aimed at helping consumers handle and prepare food safely. Last year we reached more than 4 million consumers with our safe handling and public health messages, through traditional and new media.
We have a terrific opportunity to reach many more Americans on the topic of safe food handling and good health through a new partnership with the Ad Council. Through the partnership, we will produce a multi-media, bilingual, national public service ad campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of foodborne illnesses and to get people to consistently practice safe food handling at home. We are working with many of you on this Ad Council campaign and I’m very hopeful it will be a great success through your efforts to connect with consumers: where they live, work, and where they shop for food.
A foodborne illness can cause irreparable harm. The impact of a serious foodborne illness is felt beyond its immediate impact in terms of higher health care costs and lost wages. As a medical doctor, I’ve seen the impact of foodborne illness first-hand. I’m reminded of it every time I sit across the table from someone who lost their son or daughter to E. coli O157:H7.
A single pathogen can leave a lot of damage in its wake. The cost of foodborne illness is just too high—especially when you consider that it is preventable. I look forward to working with you as a partner in doing everything we can, together, to prevent foodborne illness.
I was honored to represent the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS) at the Partnership for Food Safety Education summit in Chicago the first part of March. The summit was a wonderful opportunity to network with other professionals who are engaged in food safety education.
As the president of NEAFCS, I represent over 2,000 extension educators throughout the United States who are actively engaged in consumer education. Food safety education has always been a priority for Extension, and as employees of the national land grant universities our mission is provide up to date researched based information to consumers.
As a national association, we compile the impact of our educators programming nationwide and have been consolidating that data into national impact statements that illustrate the breath of our educational efforts. Below are some highlights from a sample of the current programs sponsored by Extension:
Food Handler Education Program – ServSafe food safety training and certification program
Pennsylvania – 1,863 individuals certified for operation of their food service establishment.
Indiana – educators trained over 3,000 individuals who work in the food retail industry, assisting them to obtain certification as safe food handlers
Consumer Food Safety – Extension provides research-based information regarding food safety and storage through response to consumer inquiries
Ohio – 400 gardeners attended a one day workshop on increasing their knowledge of safe food practices
Nebraska – 125 participants attended “Bite When the Temperature is Right” learning how to calibrate a thermometer and use it when cooking meat and poultry
Cooking for Crowds –
Pennsylvania – trained volunteers from non-profit organization who serve meals to over 300,000 customers in a 3 month period, proper food safety practices
Hand Washing Education –
Idaho – basic hand washing taught to the hundreds of international athletes at the World Special Olympics, through use of “Germ City” an interactive program
Food Preservation and Canning –
Mississippi – educators teach “Basic Hazard Critical Control Points” training
South Dakota – following completion of food preservation workshops 88% of the participants adopted critical safe food handling practices
These are just a few examples of the educational effort of NEAFCS Extension Educators. If you would like to view our impact pieces please visit our website at www.neafcs.org. NEAFCS is very excited to be a part of the Partnership for Food Safety Education and we look forward to assisting in the efforts to educate consumer on the importance of safe food handling practices to reduce food borne illness.