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A Furry Food Safety Friendship

Alvin and the Chipmunks cartoon imageWhat’s brown and furry, has a squeaky voice, travels in groups of three, and loves food safety? If you guessed Alvin and the Chipmunks, you’re right!

The USDA and the Ad Council are teaming up with 20th Century Fox to launch a series of public service announcements (PSAs) featuring our favorite furry friends, Alvin and the Chipmunks. In advance of their upcoming film, Alvin & the Chipmunks: The Road Chip, Alvin, Simon, and Theodore are helping kids and parents prevent foodborne illness with the four food safety steps—Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill.

The CDC estimates that 1 in 6 (48 million) Americans get sick from foodborne illness each year, resulting in about 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. Young children are among the most vulnerable to food poisoning because their immune systems are still developing. This is why parents and caregivers need to take extra precautions when preparing food for young children.

“Young children are at a higher risk for foodborne illness, and keeping them safe is a top priority for FSIS,” said Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety, Alfred V. Almanza. “These familiar characters offer USDA a great opportunity to communicate this valuable public health message in a way to get the attention of children and parents.”

Be sure to look out for the new PSAs on TV, on the radio, on the web, and in your community. There are also some kid-friendly activities you can print out for home or school to make learning about food safety fun!

“We’re proud to continue our great work with the Ad Council, and their partner, the USDA,” said Zachary Eller, Senior Vice President, Marketing Partnerships, 20th Century Fox. “We love that Alvin, Simon, and Theodore can help parents and kids navigate food safety.”

Remember, if a chipmunk can do it, anyone can prevent food poisoning. Just follow these USDA (and chipmunk!) certified food safety steps:


Make sure hands and surfaces are squeaky clean before and after handling food. Wash hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. Also wash all fruits and vegetables under running water before eating, cutting, or cooking.


Cross-contamination could mean big trouble! Separate raw meat and poultry from ready-to-eat foods by using separate plates, cutting boards, and utensils.


Chipmunks may be small, but bacteria are even smaller. Since you can’t see bacteria, you can’t tell if your food is finished cooking by looking at it. Always use a food thermometer to be sure your food has reached a safe internal temperature.


Alvin and his friends like to keep it chill, and so should you! Chill perishable foods promptly to prevent rapid bacterial growth. Don’t leave food out at room temperature for more than two hours or one hour if the temperature is above 90 °F.

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Posted in: At-Risk | Check Your Steps | MediaTagged: Food Safety