By Mindy Brashears, Ph.D, Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety
Protecting public health is the mission of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). The United States has the safest food supply in the world, and it’s because of the women and men who tirelessly work to inspect, enforce and educate others on the importance of food safety. That is why FSIS is proud to support The Partnership for Food Safety and the upcoming Consumer Food Safety Education Conference, to be held in Orlando, Fl., March 6-8, 2019.
This year’s theme, “From Consumers to Chefs: Food Safety Education Matters” will highlight the influence of TV chefs on at-home cooks, while bringing food safety to the forefront. The conference provides an opportunity for educators and food safety advocates to learn from each other and share ideas, data and new methods that can help educate consumers on the importance of keeping their food safe in the home.
During the conference, we will present the results of recent FSIS research that shows, in many cases, consumers are aware of the correct things to do in the kitchen, like wash their hands regularly and use a food thermometer, but the reality is that they don’t always do it.
Recent research revealed that consumers are not washing their hands correctly 97 percent of the time, with most failing to wash for the necessary 20 seconds or failing to use a clean towel to dry. We also found that only 34 percent of participants used a food thermometer to check that their food was cooked to the proper internal temperature. Yet, of that number nearly half still did not cook their food to the correct temperature.
At the Conference
This is the challenge for food safety educators, and that is why the Consumer Food Safety Education Conference is so important. Whether you educate consumers at the local, state or national level, this conference will provide avenues for advancing beyond traditional methods of communicating to consumers to find ways to change consumer behavior so that we can reduce incidents of foodborne illness.
In addition to speaking about our observational study, we will also hold a pre-conference media training workshop for educators. The workshop, conducted by USDA, is designed to increase confidence and skills so that educators are able to promote food safety education with the media.
I look forward to participating in sessions and visiting with all of the fellow educators as we move forward in helping to spread the word and change consumer behavior in our fight against foodborne illness. We hope to see you there!
About Mindy Brashears
Mindy Brashears, Ph.D, is the Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety with U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. Dr. Brashears was formerly a professor of food safety and public health and the director of the International Center for Food Industry Excellence at Texas Tech University. Her research program focused on improving food safety standards to make an impact on public health. Her highly acclaimed work evaluates interventions in pre- and post-harvest environments and on the emergence of antimicrobial drug resistance in animal feeding systems. These efforts have resulted in commercialization of a pre-harvest feed additive that can reduce E. coli and Salmonella in cattle. She also leads international research teams to Mexico, Central, and South America to improve food safety and security and to set up sustainable agriculture systems in impoverished areas. She is past-Chair of the National Alliance for Food Safety and Security and of the USDA multi-state research group.
ABOUT THE CONFERENCE
From Consumers to Chefs: Food Safety Education Matters, March 6-8, 2019 at the Swan and Dolphin Resort is the 7th in a series of food safety education conferences sponsored by the non-profit Partnership for Food Safety Education. For more conference information and to register, please visit cfsec2019.fightbac.org.