Government Website Provides Food Safety Resources
In an inter-agency joint effort between the White House, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and National Institutes of Health, http://www.foodsafety.gov premiered in 2010. This website provides a centralized location for food safety information for consumers and food industry members that previously was scattered between federal and state regulation agency websites.
The website, which is run by the Department of Health and Human Services, has information and tools to help keep food safe. The recall page is constantly updated, and you can sign up for alerts or download a widget that will inform you as new recalls are posted.
The FoodKeeper app helps you determine how to store your food, and how long it is safe to eat depending on how it is stored. The site also has charts, and pages that teach about food safety based on food type, events (such as parties, holidays, or emergencies), and seasons.
Safe Cooking Practices
The site's Check Your Steps section helps encourage safe cooking practices with videos and literature that teach safe food handling steps. This section hosts the Recipes for Disaster video series, a fictional cooking show in which common food safety mistakes are made, and the consequences highlighted.
The Food Safety Myths page works to dispel common misconceptions and links users to pages that instruct them on the proper food handling procedures related to each myth. Similarly, the Dangerous Food Safety Mistakes section highlights common mistakes and offers safer solutions.
The food safety site's Who's at Risk section helps identify those who may be at risk and therefore have different food safety requirements than the general population. Some of these people include young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with diabetes, HIV/AIDS, or autoimmune diseases. The site details what risks each of these people may face, which foods to avoid, and how to lessen the chance of foodborne illness.
Reports and Questions
Foodsafety.gov has a page to help people identify the causes and symptoms of food poisoning, also called foodborne illness or foodborne disease. If someone thinks they may have a case of food poisoning, they can report it on the web, so that regulatory agencies can watch for patterns. There is also a page with a list of resources and agencies to contact if someone suspects contaminated food.
The site has an Ask Karen section, which has a question database as well as a chat feature that allows you to speak directly with a food safety expert weekdays between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Eastern. The site also has a list of resources for email and phone support from various agencies, with information on which agencies can best handle questions about specific food items.
The site also has a multimedia page, where educational videos from the USDA, FDA, and CDC are hosted. The videos include instructional segments on washing food, cross-contamination, safely cooking food, and foodborne illness.
The multimedia section also contains educational materials from the FDA, USDA, and the Partnership for Food Safety Education. The materials include programs aimed at every age group, from day care-aged children to adults. The materials are all free for use and include bilingual videos and print materials for educators.