By: Katie Burns Date: 9/2/11
Yesterday I had the honor of joining Dr. Robert Gravani, food science professor at Cornell University, and Ms. Diane Van, Food Safety Education Staff Deputy Director at FSIS, on a webcast “Cook it Safe: Practical Strategies for Reducing the Risk of Foodborne Illness.” For those of you who were unable to participate in the webcast, let me share with you some of the highlights:
Findings from the IFIC Foundation 2011 Food & Health Survey:
• Half of Americans consider foodborne illness from bacteria to be the most important food safety issue today, yet safe food handling practices, such as washing hands with soap and water when preparing or consuming food (79 percent down from 89 percent in 2010), have shown a steady decline in recent years.
• When it comes to pre-packed food products, approximately 61 percent of Americans follow all of the package cooking instructions, but only 19 percent use a food thermometer to determine the doneness of these food products.
• About 75 percent of Americans site at least one media source as their most recently used source for food safety information, but they trust information from government officials or agencies, health professionals and the food label.
Insights on the Risks of Foodborne Illness:
• One in six Americans will get sick from foodborne illness. Foodborne illness and diseases come from consuming foods that contain pathogenic microorganisms, parasites, or viruses. These illnesses can lead to serious, long-term secondary illnesses such as arthritis, meningitis, and septicemia.
• The top five risk factors for foodborne illness include
1. Improper hot/cold holding temperatures—people need to minimize the length of time foods are in the “danger zone” of temperatures (between 40⁰ and 140⁰F).
2. Inadequate cooking temperatures—many people rely on visual cues to determine the doneness of a product, but the only accurate way is with a food thermometer.
3. Dirty/contaminated utensils & equipment—dirty utensils and equipment need to be washed thoroughly to prevent cross-contamination of raw and cooked foods, and dirty utensils and equipment that were used on raw food products should not be reused for the cooked product unless they have been cleaned in between.
4. Poor food preparer health & hygiene—hand washing and food safety go hand-in-hand!
5. Food from unsafe sources—food should be purchased from an approved and inspected source.
• Reducing foodborne illness risk is a shared responsibility from farm to fork. Consumers are part of the food safety solution!
Introducing the Cook it Safe Campaign:
• The campaign is a response to multiple public health alerts and product recalls related to outbreaks of salmonella resulting from consumption of undercooked, prepared not-ready-to-eat products. Consumers are not always aware that breaded, pre-browned products may contain raw, uncooked ingredients.
• The four key messages of the campaign are
1. Read and follow package cooking instructions.
2. Know when to use a microwave or conventional oven.
3. Know your microwave wattage before microwaving food.
4. Always use a food thermometer to ensure a safe internal temperature.
• The campaign with feature a series of Public Service Announcements.
As part of the Cook it Safe launch the IFIC Foundation (@FoodInsight and @IFICMedia) will be hosting a Twitter chat with @USDAFoodSafety on 9/16 at 12:00pm ET. You can join the discussion or following along on Twitter by using the #cookitsafe hashtag. Also, be sure to check back here throughout the month of September, as the Cook it Safe Task Force provides extra details on the campaign and its key messages.
We are all part of the food safety solution. What are you doing to keep your food safe?