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Recipes for Disaster: New Food Safety PSAs Show Us That Forgetting Food Safety Steps is a Recipe for Disaster

Recipes for disasters blog photo81 million Americans are expected to barbeque this July 4th holiday, marking the start of summer - a time when incidents of food poisoning, tend to surge.  Luckily, new Food Safety online PSAs remind us how to keep our families safe.

In preparation for Independence Day and barbeque season, the Ad Council and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service, in partnership with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are launching new public service advertisements (PSAs) as part of their national Food Safe Families campaign, the first multimedia effort designed to raise awareness of the risks of foodborne illness in the home.

Foodborne illness is a serious public health threat in the United States. The CDC estimates that approximately 1 in 6 Americans (48 million people) suffer from foodborne illness each year, resulting in roughly 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. Because warm weather events often present an opportunity for bacteria to thrive and high temperatures cause bacteria to multiply more rapidly, the summer months typically see a spike in reports of foodborne illness and outbreaks.

"Safe food handling is just as important at the grill as it is in the kitchen to help reduce the risk of foodborne illness," said USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elisabeth Hagen. "The Food Safe Families campaign shares simple, but important reminders of steps consumers can take year round to help keep their families safe from food poisoning."

Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of families are not using a food thermometer regularly to check the temperature of meat and poultry and one-third (33 percent) are not using different or freshly cleaned cutting boards to prevent cross-contamination between different food products (such as raw meat and produce).

"Our research has shown that many consumers are confident that their current cooking practices are safe, when in fact they're not following the recommended safe food handling and preparation guidelines," said Peggy Conlon, President and CEO of the Ad Council. "Our goal with the new PSAs is to raise awareness of foodborne illness and encourage families to both learn and practice key steps that will help keep their families safe from foodborne illness."

Created pro bono by ad agency Partners + Napier, the new Food Safe Families PSAs follow the story of Maria, a TV Chef on the fictional show Recipes for Disaster who unintentionally makes the wrong food safety decisions when preparing her dishes. By highlighting her missteps, families receive fun and humorous reminders about how to take steps to reduce their personal risk for food poisoning and highlight the following safe food behaviors:

  -- Clean: Wash hands with soap and warm water before and after handling raw food. Clean all surfaces and utensils with soap and hot water.  Wash all produce under running water before eating, cutting, or cooking.

  -- Separate: Use separate plates and utensils to avoid cross-contamination between raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs and foods that are ready to eat (like already cooked foods or raw vegetables).

  -- Cook: Cook foods to the safe temperature by using a food thermometer.

  -- Chill: Chill foods promptly if not consuming immediately after cooking.

The first Recipe for Disaster “webisode,” “Bacteria BBQ” and Spanish-language version “Bacterias en la barbacoa,” launched earlier this week and additional online videos, radio, print, and web advertising will be distributed later this summer. All campaign elements direct audiences to visit, where they can learn about food safety practices. Consumers can also access "Ask Karen," an online database with answers to nearly 1,500 questions related to preventing foodborne illnesses in both English and Spanish.

Launched in June of 2012, Food Safe Families is the first joint national multimedia public service campaign designed to help families prevent food poisoning in the home. Since launch, the campaign has received over $57 million in donated media and campaign website, has received over 4 million visits. Per the Ad Council model, the PSAs are distributed to media outlets nationwide and run in air time and space donated by the media.

Tagged: Video | Ad Council