Launched! A New Education Campaign for Pregnant
The U. S. Department of Agriculture's
Food Safety and Inspection Service
(FSIS) is teaming up with public and
private partners to provide safe food
handling information to pregnant
women through health care providers,
including physicians, nurses, and
According to Susan Conley, director of food safety education for FSIS,
pregnant women and their unborn
children face special risks from a
foodborne pathogen called Listeria
While Listeria monocytogenes is
rare, this foodborne pathogen can cause serious
illness, including miscarriage. The Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention estimates that
2,500 people become seriously ill
each year from the disease, and 1 in
5 people die.
Pregnant women are 20 times
more likely than other healthy adults
to become infected with listeriosis. In
fact, about one-third of listeriosis
cases happen during pregnancy.
"But our consumer research
showed us that pregnant women were
not aware of these risks and they
wanted to learn more. They told us
they wanted educational materials
that provided clear and concise information about risks and safeguards.
And they told us they wanted to receive this information from their
medical caregiver. This research is
the foundation of this campaign,
( See The Food Safety Educator,
Vol. 6, No. 3, 2001, pg. 9, Pregnant
Women Want to Hear From
Physicians About Listeriosis. )
The centerpiece of the campaign
is a new patient education publication, Listeriosis and Pregnancy: What
is Your Risk? The double-sided fact
sheet comes in tear-off pads, with 25
sheets each. The medical community told us tear-off pads were the most
convenient format for them, Conley
More than 700,000 tear-off pads
will be distributed to pregnant
women and the medical community
through the campaign. ( A sample
tear-sheet is included as an insert to
this newsletter. )
FSIS developed the campaign
with the International Food
Information Council Foundation.
Other partners include: the Food and
Drug Administration; the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention; and
the Association of Women's Health,
Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses.
In the coming year, according to Conley, "we'll be continuing to reach
out to a wide variety of health practitioners with this educational campaign. We want them to understand
the risks and to make it easy for them
to provide patient information.
The patient education pads can be
requested by emailing:
FSIS has a Web page with links to
many documents concerning Listeria
monocytogenes. The site includes
- the new publication,
- consumer research,
- relevant Federal Register notices,
- other government Web sites.
Additional information for health
practitioners can be found in a publication produced collaboratively by
the federal government and the
American Medical Association. It is
called Diagnosis and Management of
Foodborne Illness: A Primer for
Physicians . It can be accessed
New USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety
Dr. Elsa A. Murano was sworn in as
under secretary for food safety by
Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman
on October 2, 2001.
In this position, Murano oversees
the Food Safety and Inspection
A supporter of food safety education--including
the Fight BAC!
campaign--Dr. Murano has extensive
public and private experience in the
field of food safety as both a manager
During the past 6 years, Dr.
Murano held several positions with
Texas A& M University at College
Most recently she served as the
director of the university's Center for
Food Safety. During this time she
also served on the university's Department of Animal Science
Research Advisory Committee and
the Food Safety Response Team of
the Texas Agricultural Extension
In her statement to Congress, Dr.
Murano noted that she is a native of
Havana, Cuba. Her family settled
first in Puerto Rico and then Miami.
Dr. Murano graduated with a B. S.
in Biology from Florida International
"I developed a deep interest in
the medical field and in public
health, which guided me to earn an
M. S. degree in Anaerobic
Microbiology and a Ph. D. in Food
Science from Virginia Tech.
"I also developed an appreciation
for the field of food microbiology,
and decided to dedicate my life to the
study of bacteria, which, although
microscopic, are capable of causing
so many cases of foodborne illness
each year in our country and
throughout the world."
As a researcher and teacher in the
field of food safety, Dr. Murano
noted that her research led her "to
investigate organisms like
Escherichia coli O157: H7, Listeria
monocytogenes, and Salmonella, all
the bad actors that have become
household words. My approach in
this work has been to determine
where these pathogens are found, and
to investigate safe methods that can
be used to control or eliminate them
from farm to table."
Noting the importance of sound
science in making decisions, Dr.
Murano added that "I have also
observed the need for a proactive
approach, one that does not react to
food safety crises but rather anticipates risks.
"The events of September 11th
are a reminder to all of us that we
need to be diligent in order to prevent
threats to our food supply as much as
Concluding, Dr. Murano said, "We re all in this together, government ( and I mean not only those in
USDA, but all other agencies that
play a role in food safety) , consumers, industry, educators, and scientists. It is only through a team
approach, working in total transparency, and standing on the truth of
science that we will accomplish our
goal for America of having the safest
food supply possible."
The Three "R's"
Responsive, Rigorous, Respect
Addressing the Food Marketing
Institute ( FMI) in November 2001,
Dr. Elsa Murano identified the three
operating principles of her administration. The Food Safety and
Inspection Service ( FSIS) , she said, "will be responsive, it will be rigorous, and it will strive to earn the
respect of our stakeholders."
In being responsive, Dr. Murano
sees the agency as open and listening
to stakeholders, continuing to hold
public meetings, and seeking the
The other way the agency will be
responsive, she said, is by addressing
emerging food safety hazards quickly, pointing out that the agency is
now better able to identify emerging
hazards through better surveillance
systems as well as improved inspection systems.
Science is the only foundation for
effective food safety policy, according to Dr. Murano.
"I am open to
new solutions, new ways of doing
business, but only if they stand on
the firm foundation of science." Dr.
Murano sees four keys to science-based decision making:
- risk assessments--These are the
tools that allow policy makers to
identify hazards and provide a basis
for making risk management decisions. "The analyses we make must
be complete, and the models that are
generated must stand the rigor of the
peer-review process," she said.
- expert advisory committees--The
agency will continue to seek expert advice through
two advisory committees, the National Advisory
Committee on Meat and Poultry
Inspection and the National Advisory
Committee on Microbiological
Criteria for Foods.
- FSIS laboratories--"Our laboratories contribute greatly to our science-based approach," Dr. Murano said.
"They must be second to none in
terms of their ability to meet emerging challenges." All three FSIS laboratories are expected to be certified
by the International Organization for
Standardization by the end of 2001.
- open to novel technologies--"We
must also encourage the application
of novel technologies to food safety,"
Dr. Murano said, noting that irradiation has proven very effective against
conventional foodborne illness. It
needs to be considered, along with
other innovative methods of decontamination.
"We must work to deserve this
label," Dr. Murano said, "by ensuring
that we make our decisions through
an open, transparent process that
includes all stakeholders.
"I challenge you to grade us on
these 3 "R's" as we work together."
To read the complete
speech, go to:
Food and Agriculture
Safeguarding American agriculture and food is one of the
nation s highest priorities.
Everyone, from the highest levels
of government to food growers,
producers, and foodservice, is
paying new attention to security
In her November speech to
FMI, Dr. Murano addressed
bioterrorism. "A strong food safety infrastructure," she said,
systems in place to prevent contamination, can address hazards,
regardless of how they are introduced." FSIS, she added,
long history of dealing with food
emergencies, and this experience
will serve the agency well."
To access the latest federal
information regarding biosecurity, go to:
New Progress, New Tools, New Campaign
The Food Safety and Inspection Service s (
FSIS) campaign to promote thermometer use--Thermy--is finishing its second year with a
great progress report and new directions for the coming year.
The campaign was launched in
the spring of 2000 to encourage consumers to use food thermometers.
While many people own food thermometers, most only take them out
of the drawer for holiday meals.
According to Holly McPeak,
Thermy coordinator, the campaign
was designed to change that picture
and encourage cooks to use food
thermometers for everyday meals.
Why? Because using a food thermometer is the only way to make
sure food has been cooked to a high
enough temperature to destroy harmful bacteria.
Over the past 2 years, McPeak
reports, "We've seen tremendous
interest and participation in the campaign from a wide variety of educators, including extension agents, public health, industry, school nurses,
and teachers. They have taken the
Thermy character and information
everywhere imaginable, from fairs
and schools to grocery stores and
"Thermometer manufacturers are
including our educational information in their thermometer package.
Grocery stores are using our materials for their in-store displays.
Thermy appeared in school skits
and shows--the momentum has been
amazing," McPeak reported.
New tools for foodservice:
Thermy materials are
modified for use by foodservice,
reflecting the temperatures contained in the Food and Drug
Administration's Food Code ( see article on page 5) .
New tools for consumers:
A number of new Thermy
materials have been made available
over the past year, including:
- Thermy graphics
- Spanish Thermy materials
- Thermy coloring page
- Thermy puzzle page for kids
Go to the Thermy Web site:
Looking to the future, the FSIS
food safety education staff is moving
the campaign into a new phase using
social marketing principles.
Susan Conley, director of food
safety education for FSIS, explains, "As the next step in our campaign,
we want to further target our information to people most likely to
"To refine our understanding of
this audience and barriers to behavior change we are working with a
social marketing firm, utilizing a
demographic database, and continuing focus group research."
The next issue of The Educator
will report on this research as well as
the next generation of Thermy campaign materials.
The Front Burner: Food Safety for
the calendar rolls into 2002, foodservice providers will find more educational tools available to them for
free through a special alliance of
government and industry.
The Food Safety Training and
Education Alliance ( FSTEA) is
working to improve access to food
safety education and training for
Its Web site (http://www.fstea.org)
provides a rich variety of resources:
training materials: more than
online training manuals as well
signs, foreign language materials, graphics, and
learn from others : success stories,
interviews with experts, and an online
- rules and regulations:
Food Drug Administration s Food Code, state and local food
codes, and more;
government agencies, universities, state and
local officials, state restaurant and hospitality
- getting trained: information on
state-approved food safety training
and certifications, as well as standards and guidelines for training and
food safety funding: grants available from a variety of federal agencies.
In addition to USDA s Food
Safety and Inspection Service,
FSTEA member organizations are
diverse and include: the Food and
Drug Administration, the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention, the
Association of Food and Drug
Officials, the Conference for Food
Protection, the Educational
Foundation of the National
Restaurant Association, and the
American Culinary Federation.
Thermy : Working for Foodservice
Thermy , the educational messenger
for the FSIS campaign to increase thermometer use,
is rolling up his sleeves and dipping into pot
roasts and stews to help foodservice
employees get the temperature right and "make it
safe to bite!"
for 2002, FSIS is releasing educational
materials--including posters and
Thermy AND temperatures
required by the Food and Drug
Administration's newly revised Food
Code for foodservice.
According to Thermy coordinator Holly McPeak,
"Up to this point,
Thermy materials have been geared to
the consumer and featured safe cooking temperatures for cooks at home.
These new materials feature foodservice cooking temperatures--it's
never been easier--or more important--to use food thermometers."
To help get the
Thermy for foodservice message out,
the USDA's Food and Nutrition
Service will mail a variety of Thermy
information--including the new Thermy™ for foodservice magnet-- to 97,000
school foodservice managers throughout
Email requests to
Food Safety Info in
The Food Safety and Inspection
Service has a growing number of
materials in Spanish.
You can find additional food safety information in languages other
than English by going to:
And don t forget two other great
New Harvard Study Finds Low BSE Risk
A new risk analysis conducted by the
U.S. Department of Agriculture by
the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis
concludes that "the U.S. is highly
resistant to any introduction of BSE
or similar disease. BSE is extremely
unlikely to become established in the
The Harvard Center developed a
simulation model to help characterize the consequences of introducing
BSE into the U. S. by various means.
The model allowed them to predict
the number of newly infected animals that would result from the introduction of BSE, the time course of
the disease following its introduction, and the potential for human
To read more, go to:
New Director for FSIS Office of Public Health
D. W. Chen, M. D. , M. P. H. has been
named the new director of the
Human Health Sciences Division,
Office of Public Health and Science,
Food Safety and Inspection Service.
Taking over the position in
August 2001, Dr. Chen previously
served as Director of the Division of
Transplantation for the U.S.
Department of Health and Human
Services ( HHS) . That office regulates
the nation's organ and tissue transplant system.
Dr. Chen has also worked in medical education and public health
workforce development with HHS.
Dr. Chen is an active duty
Commissioned Officer with the U.S.
Public Health Service. He is Board-Certified in Preventive Medicine and
a Fellow of the American College of
his undergraduate studies at Harvard
University, earned a Masters in
Public Health degree from the
Harvard School of Public Health, and
his medical degree from the Tufts
University School of Medicine.
Free! For Science Teachers!
With about $ 30 worth of supplies
found in grocery and hardware
stores, teachers and students are
ready to launch into a new world of
learning with a free new educational
program called Science and the Food
The program includes an Emmy award-winning video, teachers guides
for both middle and high school, and
career development information. It's
designed to turn kids on to science,
food safety, and careers in science.
One teacher who worked with the
program said, "The kids are so excited. . . .The program has made a definite impact on the kids, in the school,
and in their homes."
Produced jointly by the Food and
Drug Administration and the
National Science Teachers
Association, science teachers can
order this package by going to:
Or, you can write:
Science and Our Food Supply
1840 Wilson Blvd.
Arlington, VA 22201-3000
Are you looking for graphics to use
with food safety education projects?
We've got em.
Check out the updated graphics
from the Food Safety and Inspection
Service. Go to:
This page provides access to
graphics from Fight BAC! ,
Thermy , Cooking for Groups,
National Food Safety Education
Month SM campaigns, and more,
including links to other graphics collections.
The Food Safety Educator: Index Now
Six years of The Food Safety
Educator's articles are now indexed
and available on-line.
A glance at topics covered over
the past 6 years provides an interesting look at the ground we've covered
as food safety educators. Here's a
- 1996: Safe handling instructions, introduced on packages of
meat and poultry;
- 1997: Introducing Fight BAC!
- 1998: Special issue devoted to
- 1999: Fight BAC! food safety
program for kids;
- 2000: The FSIS campaign to
encourage thermometer use--Thermy ;
- 2001: Special issue devoted to
Take a look at the index yourself.
EdNet Subscribers Quadrupled
The number of subscribers to EdNet,
a monthly electronic newsletter
devoted to food safety education, has
quadrupled since 1998 to nearly
The newsletter is a joint project
of the USDA's Food Safety and
Inspection Service, the Food and
Drug Administration, and the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention.
It contains the latest food safety
education news including new projects, new regulations, meetings, and
To subscribe, email:
Send the message: Subscribe
EDNET-L firstname lastname
Checking Out the Status of
The well-being of America's children
was the topic of a special issue of the
Food Review published by the U.S.
Department of Agriculture's
Economic Research Service in 2001.
In an article titled "Children and
Microbial Foodborne Illness," author
Jean Buzby reports that estimated
costs of five foodborne illnesses in
children under the age of 10 totaled
$ 2.3 billion--about one-third of total
"Children deserve added attention
in the study of microbial foodborne
illness," Buzby notes, because their
risks of some foodborne illnesses are
relatively higher than for other
Why? One reason is that their
immune systems are not fully developed, making them more vulnerable
to some foodborne illnesses. In addition, the child's lower weight means
that it takes a smaller quantity of
pathogens to make a child sick than a
Foodborne pathogens most likely to cause
illness among young children include Salmonella and
The leading cause of serious illness and death for young children
was Salmonella, with infants facing
the highest risk of illness of any age
The second leading cause of
foodborne illness and death was
Listeria monocytogenes, a pathogen
than can infect an unborn child
through the mother. While Listeria is
rarely reported in young children, it
can cause spontaneous abortion and
developmental complications for
Other articles in this special issue
focus on children s diets, the problem of overweight children, and the
economic benefits of food assistance
To access the issue, go to:
Food safety educators and communicators from across the country are
making plans to attend Thinking
Globally--Working Locally, a conference that will help shape future education programs.
The conference is to take place in
Orlando, Florida from Sept. 18-20,
Join us as new, innovative education programs are presented along
with the latest epidemiological and
consumer behavior research.
The conference is being sponsored by:
U. S. Department of Agriculture
- Food Safety and Inspection
- Cooperative State Research,
Education, and Extension Service;
U. S. Department of Health and
- The Food and Drug
- Centers for Disease Control and
in cooperation with the Partnership for Food Safety Education.
The early registration fee for the
2-1/2 day conference is $ 135.
The deadline for abstract proposals is March 2002.
To learn more, check out the Web
site. Go to:
How To Keep in Touch With Food Safety Education
The Food Safety Educator
This free quarterly newsletter reports on new food safety educational
programs and materials as well as emerging science concerning food safety risks.
It is distributed to nearly 10,000 educators throughout the country including
public health offices, extension educators, industry, and consumer groups.
To subscribe: provide your full name, organization name & mailing
On the Web
- EdNet--a monthly electronic newsletter for food safety educators.
To subscribe, send an e-mail message to: Listserv@foodsafety.gov
message: Subscribe EDNET-L firstname lastname
- foodsafe--an online electronic discussion group. To join, go to:
- USDA's Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-800-535-4555, for the
hearing-impaired (TTY) 1-800-256-7072
- Food and Drug Administration's Outreach and Information Center 1-888-SAFEFOOD
F S E
The Food Safety Educator is produced by the Food Safety
Education Staff, Food Safety and Inspection Service, U.S. Department of
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