September is National Food Safety Education Month. Started in 1994, this initiative aims to prevent foodborne illness, which sickens 48 million Americans every year.
While the food industry tends to focus on preventing contamination during manufacturing, a large percentage of these illnesses occur because foods are mishandled at home or at foodservice establishments. But, regardless of where problems are most likely to occur, consumers hold food regulatory agencies and food companies most responsible for ensuring that food is safe.
That’s why, no matter what segment of the industry you’re in, whether it’s processing, packaging, distribution, or retail, you should dedicate some time this month to educating food handlers and consumers about food safety.
These resources will help you do just that.
Foodsafety.gov is managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Its goal is to be “the gateway to food safety information provided by government agencies.” The site provides information about food safety by type of food, charts for storage and cooking temperatures, and much more. The USDA even has an app, FoodKeeper, that tells consumers how long food will stay fresh if it’s stored correctly.
The CDC provides resources in a variety of formats — including videos and graphics — to help consumers learn how to properly prepare and handle food. They even have some pre-written Facebook and Twitter messages that you can copy and paste for easy sharing.
The FDA also provides many resources in multiple formats, including social media messages, for easy dissemination. Check out these two in particular:
- The Consumer Food Safety Educator Evaluation Toolbox & Guide — a website that helps food safety educators plan and evaluate their programs and activities.
- The Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) Education Resource Library — a catalog of printable educational materials on food safety and more, available in different languages.
Like the other government agencies, the USDA provides links to a variety of resources, including presentations, webinars, and videos that are eligible for continuing education credits.
The Partnership for Food Safety Education is dedicated to helping consumers prevent food poisoning year-round. The site has a large collection of downloads, including activities to introduce kids to the concept of food safety. There are also many fun and colorful graphics for sharing on social media.
#FSEM and #FoodSafetyMonth
Use these hashtags across social media to find and share resources and join the conversation surrounding food safety.