Get Food Safety Answers on Your Smart Phone
By Diane Van, Manager, USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline
Some of the questions we hear most frequently at the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline include “Is food safe if left out overnight?” and “Should I wash chicken before cooking it?” We know people aren’t sitting at a computer when these questions occur, and they often need the answers right away.
Just in time for summer grilling season—one of the busiest times of year for the Hotline—I’m happy to announce that our virtual food safety representative, Ask Karen, is now available in mobile format. That means you can access Karen's extensive knowledge base about safely handling, cooking, and storing food directly from your smart phone, anywhere and anytime your phone can access the Internet.
Mobile Ask Karen has all the same features as Ask Karen on your computer. Only now, she can answer your food safety questions at the grocery store, in your kitchen, or at your barbecue grill. Hopefully, by sending Karen out to picnics, farmers markets, and backyard cookouts via people’s smart phones, she’ll be able to reduce the number of foodborne illnesses that usually increase in the summer months.
Using your iOS (iPhone and iPad) or Android device, you can chat live with a food safety expert on weekdays between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. EST, and the web-based app provides the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline number (1-888-MPHotline) in case you want to speak to someone directly.
If it’s midnight, however, and you’re not sure if you should snack on the pizza that’s been sitting on your countertop since dinnertime, the Ask Karen database is available 24/7 and has the answers to nearly 1,500 food safety questions. Chances are, someone else has faced a similar dilemma, and a solution can be found by searching for a few keywords.
Just like we try to do with this blog, government food safety agencies are trying to get as much food safety advice to the public as we can. Knowing how much time everyone (we do it too!) spends on their smart phones, it only makes sense that Ask Karen should be available from such a widely used tool.
Take Karen with you! To start using Mobile Ask Karen now, go to m.AskKaren.gov, or scan the QR code into your iOS or Android-powered device:
This phone application and website sounds like a fantastic way to keep people informed. I know that I often have questions while cooking and need (or want!) an immediate answer. After reading the previous article about the unrefridgerated soups causing botulism poisoning, a feature like "Ask Karen" could save others from contracting a food borne illness or simply just a lousy meal. There are many different rules and tricks to keeping food safe, and knowing what is still good/ how to cook something/ how long to cook something.... and it get's confusing for the amateur cook. I know that as a nursing student, I would benefit from a feature like this one because it will keep me in the know and give me an immediate answer to my food questions.