Pregúntele a Karen for Food Safety Answers in Spanish
By Maribel Alonso, Bilingual Information Specialist, USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service
In my job as a bilingual technical information specialist with the USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline, one of my responsibilities is to answer food safety questions from callers who speak Spanish. Since 2002, when we started offering our hotline services in Spanish, we’ve learned that the members of our Hispanic communities across the country are increasingly interested in getting advice from food safety experts.
The Hotline is open Monday thru Friday, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (EDT). If you happen to call after hours, you can listen to recorded food safety messages in English and Spanish. But, what do you do if you have a food safety question that just can’t wait? What if it’s 2:00 a.m.?
Pregúntele a Karen is a free online service that provides consumers with answers in Spanish to over 1,200 questions about food safety – questions like:
- How do I thaw a whole chicken safely?
- If my hamburgers are still pink inside, are they safe?
- If the leftovers stayed out on the counter all night, are they safe to eat?
With Pregúntele a Karen, all you need to do is type a question, keyword, or phrase, and then click Ask. (Or you can cheat and look at the answers at the end of this blog.) The great thing about both PregunteleaKaren.gov and AskKaren.gov is that they’re available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
On our Web site, FSIS En Español, we provide many other resources for food safety information in Spanish, which are also available 24/7:
Now, for the answers to those questions (with links to our fact sheets – in Spanish):
- Chicken: USDA recommends three safe ways to defrost chicken: in the refrigerator, in cold water, and in the microwave (not on the counter). Remember to cook it immediately after thawing with cold water or in the microwave. Fact sheet: The Big Thaw
- Hamburgers: The only way to tell whether a hamburger is done is to use a meat thermometer. Fact sheet: Is It Done Yet?
- Leftovers: Never leave perishable food out of the refrigerator for more than two hours. Fact sheet: Basics for Handling Food Safely
Food safety is an important concept for the smooth functioning of a common man. So far what was lacking is the awareness. with your hotline this is taking a new dimension. I never knew that such an hotline existed where one can ask food safety related questions. Another great news is that you are offering the support in two languages English and Spanish. I think it would be better if this can be expanded to more languages like Chinese and French.