page provides a text alternative for an article in the Winter/Spring
2007 issue (PDF Only, 5.4MB).
Join the "Be Food Safe"
By Robyn Sadagursky and CiCi Williamson
"Be Food Safe." Three simple words - but a declarative
phrase that's effective in the fight against foodborne illness.
These three words are the theme for a new multimedia public education
campaign that's crucial to preventing foodborne illness. "Be
Food Safe" uses new consumer—tested materials and messages
to encourage consumers to change their behavior and maintain those
changes. The new educational effort continues to focus on the safe
food-handling behaviors of "Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill,"
which were created for the Fight BAC!® campaign by the Partnership
for Food Safety Education.
"Be Food Safe" is an educational program grounded in
social marketing, behavior change, and risk communication theories.
It delivers specific safe food-handling messages to help consumers
understand the simple steps they can take to prevent foodborne illness.
The program provides educators with the tools to inform consumers
about foodborne illness and raises the overall level of awareness
of the dangers associated with unsafe handling and undercooked food.
USDA developed "Be Food Safe" in cooperation with the
Food Safety Education, the Food
and Drug Administration, and the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Our partners already use many successful campaigns,"
said Susan Conley, Director of Food Safety Education at USDA's Food
Safety and Inspection Service. "We designed 'Be Food Safe'
to be an umbrella campaign that will work with existing educational
Why "Be Food Safe"?
Research shows that Americans are aware of food safety but they
need more information to achieve and maintain safe food-handling
behaviors. Using the easy-to-remember theme, "Be Food Safe"
empowers consumers to achieve and maintain safe food-handling behaviors.
The campaign's focus on the four basic safe food-handling behaviors,
"Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill," provides the framework
for communicating the specific safe food-handling information consumers
Preventing foodborne illness is one of the USDA's and its partners'
top priorities. This year about 5,000 people in the United States
will die from foodborne illness — approximately 14 people each day.
More than 325,000 people are hospitalized each year for foodborne
illness and approximately 76 million cases occur annually. That's
why everyone needs to "Be Food Safe."
As part of the program, a partner's toolkit was created to provide
the essentials needed to spread the "Be Food Safe" message
in a variety of different forums. It features a DVD containing ready-to-use
print and radio advertisements, feature articles, a poster and other
tools educators can customize and use to run an effective, co-branded
"Radio public service announcements, TV video news releases,
magazine print ads and eye-catching consumer materials are part
of this energizing endeavor to enlighten consumers on the steps
necessary to prevent illness from the foods they eat," said
Conley. "And there is more to come — a TV spot, brochure and
other materials are scheduled for production in 2007."
At the dedicated Web address befoodsafe.gov,
partners can download
the customizable print materials and consumer publications.
The blank areas on the items are designed for partner organizations
to add their names and logos to leverage the credibility of trusted
national and local sources for food safety information.
"Be Food Safe" is adopted from a proven earlier approach:
"Is It Done Yet?"
the USDA pilot-tested public health paid advertising campaign. The
pilot, conducted in August 2004 in partnership with the Michigan
State University's National Food Safety and Toxicology Center, was
designed to increase the use of food thermometers in Michigan. "Is
It Done Yet?" targeted suburban parents with children under
the age of 10. After the two-week media outreach campaign, 50 percent
more targeted parents thought about using a food thermometer when
cooking or grilling, and thermometer usage among the target audience
increased by about 9 percent.
Based on this successful model campaign, the tools that partners
needed were created for them to use in taking these food safety
education messages to local media outlets, reaching consumers nationwide.
The success of the current program depends upon partners reaching
as many consumers as possible.
Help Others "Be Food Safe"
Partners — whether in education, public health, processing or retailing
— can help achieve momentum for the "Be Food Safe" message
and have a greater positive impact on consumer behavior than the
federal government alone. This public-private partnership is essential
in promoting the "Be Food Safe" message, generating attention,
and gaining momentum for this exciting new education campaign. It
is time to spread the word to help all consumers and for America
to "Be Food Safe."
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