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Faces of Food Safety - Marianne Gravely, Educating the Public through FSIS’ Meat and Poultry Hotline

Marianne GravelyJuly marked the 30th anniversary of USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline. Hotline experts keep the public safe from foodborne illness by answering consumer questions on all sorts of food safety topics. In fact, since its inception in1985, the Hotline has handled more than 3 million calls from the public.

27-year hotline veteran Marianne Gravely, a Technical Information Specialist in FSIS’ Office of Public Affairs and Consumer Education, has answered many of those calls.“I’ve probably answered certain questions thousands of times,” Gravely said. “I started in April 1988. That’s before the Internet! At the time, we provided food safety information only by phone because they couldn’t look for answers on a website.”

As technology and food safety has changed over the years, Gravely has watched that influence the way FSIS educates the public. When the Hotline started, it was the most up-to-date method of reaching consumers. “[Today]consumers are more savvy about the kinds of risks in their food,” Gravely said. Questions have become more complex over time and consumers are more aware of the types of pathogens that can threaten food safety.

Gravely feels that the Meat and Poultry Hotline, as well as other FSIS services such as Ask Karen, offer an invaluable service to the public. When people call or chat with an FSIS employee, “they appreciate the service because they don’t know where else to go; there is so much information on the Internet but they don’t know what to trust and they feel we are a trustworthy source of information.”

Outside of work, Gravely is known to her family and friends as a food safety expert, so people are cautious when serving food around her and reach out to her when they have food safety questions. Prior to working at USDA,Gravely was a Home Economist for Yokosuka Naval Base Family Service Center in Japan where she helped American families adjust to life in Japan, working directly with Japanese citizens who married American sailors and were moving to the U.S. Gravely graduated from Hood College with a Bachelor of Science in Home Economics and earned a master’s degree in Human Nutrition and Foods from Virginia Tech.

Last Modified Oct 18, 2016