Healthy People 2010 Progress Review: 2004 Food Safety Education Examples

May 11, 2004  

Food Safety Education Examples

  • FDA and FSIS develop and distribute materials for consumers and various organizations on issues of food safety concern, such as the importance of cooking foods to safe temperatures, foodborne illness associated with raw and undercooked eggs and raw seafood, and food safety for seniors. These materials are distributed in bulk to organizations serving highly susceptible populations (e.g., AIDS and cancer hotlines, voluntary health groups, day care and senior citizen centers), to agency field staff, and through food safety exhibits at health professional meetings throughout the year, such as the National Association of City and County Health Officials, the National Association of WIC (Women, Infants and Children) Program Directors, and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging.
  • Direct mailing to newspapers and consumer magazines of food safety materials timed to coordinate with public interests, e.g., egg safety at Easter, safe holiday cooking in the winter season, safe picnics in warm weather months.
  • Development and distribution throughout the nation of drop-in newspaper columns on topics of special concern -- e.g., egg safety, listeriosis, methyl mercury in fish, and handling produce safely.
  • Meetings on food safety issues with editorial staffs of national magazines to stimulate articles such as have appeared in Family Circle, Better Homes and Gardens, Parenting, Redbook, Parents, Woman's Day, and American Baby.
  • Development and distribution throughout the nation of video news releases on food safety labeling initiatives, e.g., untreated juice labeling and safe handling instructions on fresh egg packages.
  • The National Coalition of Food Safe Schools is a network of national organizations, associations, and government agencies that have direct or indirect involvement or interest in reducing foodborne illness in the U.S. by improving food safety in schools. The NCFSS web site was launched in June 2001.
  • Thermy™: In Spring 2000 FSIS, USDA launched a new national food safety education campaign to promote the use of food thermometers. The campaign theme is: "It's Safe to Bite When the Temperature is Right!" The campaign is designed to encourage consumers to use a food thermometer when cooking meat, poultry, and egg products. The Partnership for Food Safety Education, The Food Temperature Indicator Association, and a number of grocery chains and thermometer companies around the country are cooperating with USDA in the Thermy™ campaign.
  • In 2003, FSIS introduced a new educational campaign designed to reach millions of consumers with food safety messages. The campaign's centerpiece is the Food Safety Mobile, which travels the country delivering food safety education and developing partnerships at the local level. For the communities the Mobile visits, representatives from the national level are teamed with community leaders to provide answers for consumers on national and local issues. Partners with the USDA Food Safety Mobile come from all over the community: universities and cooperative extension, state and local public health, agriculture, and other government agencies, FSIS field offices, grocery stores, schools, and many others.
  • Each year FDA and FSIS develop a kit of consumer education materials for National Food Safety Education MonthSM (September), in support of the four key food safety practices. These kits reach some 42,000 health educators, including FDA and USDA field staff, State and local health department personnel, school food service directors, and school nurses and are used in a variety of local educational activities. (A CD of one kit is provided in this binder.)
  • FDA annually provides seed funding for 14-20 grassroots food safety education projects to FDA Public Affairs Specialists in the field. These projects typically involve partnerships with local extension agents, health departments, schools, media, and/or businesses and reflect a broad range of activities, from multicultural consumer education to train-the-trainer programs for food service workers to contests for schoolchildren.
  • The Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference, a cooperative relationship among FDA, National Marine Fisheries Service, Environmental Protection Agency, the States, and the shellfish industry that assures that uniform shellfish control measures are adopted, and that those measures are enforced consistently by state regulatory authorities, also provides educational information about molluscan shellfish and about Vibrio vulnificus.

Hispanic Food Safety Education

  • In cooperation with Radio Unica, FDA distributed information in Spanish and English on the four key food safety behaviors, as well as the risks associated with undercooked eggs and raw seafood, at 12 health fairs held in major Hispanic population centers across the U.S.
  • In cooperation with the California Department of Health Services, FDA developed and implemented a program to educate the Latino community on the dangers of eating raw molluscan shellfish because they may be contaminated with the bacteria Vibrio vulnificus, which can cause serious illness or death. This is a particular concern in the Hispanic community since raw oysters are a favorite food, especially among Hispanic males. The program centered around a fotonovela, a popular means of communicating information in Hispanic communities. This program has been effective among Hispanic populations in other parts of the country.
  • FDA has produced a bilingual tool kit, available on the Web, to help local health educators inform the Hispanic community about the dangers of eating raw oysters. How to Generate Awareness of Vibrio vulnificus of Raw Oysters with the Hispanic Community includes tools a health educator needs to conduct a media relations and community outreach health education campaign. The tool kit, available in a brochure format, is on the Web at

School-based Education Programs

  • The K-3 Presenter's Kit, a compendium of games, songs and coloring materials utilizing the Fight BAC!® character has been widely distributed to elementary schools and has proven effective with pre-schoolers as well.
  • Your Game Plan for Food Safety, for grades 4-6, includes an award-winning video and food safety-related experiments to teach basic microbiological concepts illustrating the importance of the four key behaviors. Developed in partnership with the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), some 17,000 copies are now in use by teachers.
  • Science and Our Food Supply, a supplementary food safety curriculum for middle and high school students developed by FDA and NSTA and is in wide use with more than 23,000 copies distributed in response to teacher requests. In addition, FDA and NSTA host an annual train-the-trainer program, bringing 25 middle school and 25 high school science teachers to Washington each year for a week of food safety/food science training, in return for which the teachers hold workshops in their local areas on Science and Our Food Supply. To date, more than 4000 teachers have participated in the local workshops.

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