|Food Safety and Inspection
United States Department of Agriculture
Washington, D.C. 20250-3700
Consumer Education and InformationVolume 6, No. 2 2001
We're heading for the blistering hot days of summer. What better time to think about "chill," the last of the four key food safety messages of the Fight BAC! campaign.
"Chill" is the theme for this year's National Food Safety Education Month SM in September. As in past years, the Food Safety and Inspection Service and the Food and Drug Administration are working together to provide educators with materials for consumers.
These reproducible consumer materials will include fact sheets and backgrounders as well as materials for kids--a game, song, and word puzzle. They will be direct mailed later this summer and available through http://www.foodsafety.gov/september
The National Restaurant Association is also developing a package for food service. It will be direct mailed to members and also available on the Web in July 2001. Go to: http://www.foodsafetycouncil.org
The "chill" message is a great one for educators. While many consumers realize they need to cook food thoroughly to kill harmful bacteria, many more DON'T realize the hazards of letting foods sit for too long at room temperature and the rules for "refrigerator food safety."
For instance, quiz yourself:
So, what are some good "chill" food safety rules?
Refrigerate perishable foods promptly! Even steaming hot foods can go into the refrigerator. It won't hurt the refrigerator and it will keep food safe! Remember to store hot foods in shallow containers to speed cooling.
Get a refrigerator thermometer! They aren't expensive and you can pick one up at your local grocery store. KNOW if your refrigerator's temperature is too cool, too warm, or just right! For consumers, the safe temperature is at or below 40 degrees F.
Don't jam-pack the fridge. If you pack your refrigerator with food in every nook and cranny, the air won't circulate properly and cool quickly. So make sure there's enough room for air to circulate. Use the storage bins for fruits and vegetables or meats and cheeses. Especially in newer refrigerators, they are specifically designed to maximize the shelf life and safety of these foods. Eggs, however, are safer stored in their original containers.
Keep it clean. We regularly wash almost everything in our kitchens, except our refrigerators. Spilled food on shelves is a perfect spot for dangerous bacteria to hide. Clean up spills right away. And regularly wash the refrigerator out with hot, soapy water.
Pitch, pitch, pitch. Don't keep food too long. It's better to throw food away than to jeopardize your health. The longer you've had the food, the greater the chance that dangerous bacteria might be there.
In general: Fresh poultry and ground meat keep in the refrigerator up to 2 days; fresh meat up to 5 days; and most leftovers will keep 3 to 4 days. Vacuum-packed meats last 2 weeks unopened; 5-7 days if opened.
There are a good number of food storage guides you can turn to, including an on-line resource from the Food Marketing Institute: http://www.fmi.org/consumer/foodkeeper/search.htm
You just enter the food you are interested in and the database will provide you with storage information.
The Partnership for Food Safety Education has produced a fabulous "info-graphic" fact sheet on the "chill" message.
We've included the fact sheet as an insert to this newsletter--along with info-graphic fact sheets from the Fight BAC! campaign on the other three key food safety messages: "clean," "separate," and "cook."
As with all BAC! materials, educators are encouraged to copy them.
You can also access all four fact sheets through the Web site. You can download a PDF file, get the text only, or download copy suitable for a printer. Go to: http://www.fightbac.org/tools/brochures
Here's a glimpse of some of the information you'll find on "chill":
In 2000, National Food Safety Education Month SM Planning Guides for Consumers were distributed to 40,000 food safety educators, including school food service and cooperative extension.
Here's what some of the folks last year had to say about the materials and how they used them:
Marshall, Wisconsin: Gina Kalka from the Marshall Public Schools said, "I loved the setup of the folder, very easy to read and pull out the different papers to copy or cut and paste."
Farmersville, Illinois: Principal Linda Eades reported, "Our whole school participated. We put up signs, obtained local press coverage... sponsored a coloring contest... We had newspaper photos and articles as well."
Little Rock, Arkansas: Rosalyn Scruggs from the Little Rock School District explained that they teamed up with cooperative extension and presented a mini food safety course reaching 238 students!
Alder, Montana: Cook/ Manager Janice Buck said she "made copies of all the fun things for the kids and sent materials home to parents," noting that they are a "pretty small community," with 30 students in their K-6 school.
Grenada, Mississippi: Carolyn Hoot with cooperative extension networked with partners and managed to get radio spots aired as well as food safety bag stuffers passed out at cooperating stores, including Wal-Mart Super Center and Piggly Wiggly.
Mauston, Wisconsin: Jennifer Froh with the county health department sent materials out to 350 day care families.
Knoxville, Tennessee: Ken Pearson with the county health department did a full-court press--newspaper articles, TV news coverage--and a county health employee dressed up as "Bacteria Bob" appeared on a local television show for kids to teach them about "good germs and bad germs."
Tulsa, Oklahoma: Melissa Adair with the community nutrition program not only worked with local television, she also teamed up with elementary schools, housing authorities, homeless shelters, and pregnant teen centers.
Buenos Aires, Argentina: Dr. Cesar Augusto Lerena sent in this note reflecting the international perspective on food safety: "We are trying to apply all the programs that focus on food safety education for people who work in food industries that export to the U. S."
With this year's National Food Safety Education Month SM package focusing on "chill," all four key food safety messages from the Fight BAC! campaign have been turned into in-depth packages of training materials for consumers and food service.
For consumers: These consumer education resources include reproducible artwork, games, fact sheets, songs, press releases, and more. They are all available on the Web. Go to: http://www.foodsafety.gov/september
For food service: Educational materials for food services based on the four key Fight BAC! messages are also available. There are games and seminars that educators can use year round! They are archived at: http://www.foodsafetycouncil.org/
For Further Information Contact:
FSIS Food Safety Education Staff
Dianne Durant, Writer/Editor
Phone: (301) 504-9605
Fax: (304) 504-0203
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