News / USA

    US Food Safety Hotline Works to Prevent Food-Borne Illness

    An outdoor cookout
    An outdoor cookout

    Multimedia

    Chris Simkins

    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says about one in six Americans get sick from food poisoning every year and about 3,000 of them die.  Health officials say those numbers usually rise during this time of year as more Americans take advantage of warm weather by cooking and eating outdoors.  We have more on efforts to improve food safety and how a group of people near Washington, D.C. are working to educate consumers against food-borne illness.

    Millions of Americans are cooking outdoors as the summer ushers in picnics, barbecues and food festivals.  But as sunshine and warm weather attract many people to eat outside, the chances of getting food poisoning grow.  Andrea Darlas got Salmonella poisoning after eating tainted Hummus at a food festival.

    "I was dehydrated - had high fever and chills," said Darlas.

    Jane Bradbury got sick too.

    "I thought it was the flu.  I had aches and pains," said Bradbury.

    These women are not alone, millions of Americans are stricken with serious food-borne illness each year.  More than half of all Americans say they are are cooking outdoors year round.  Now health officials are intensifying efforts to educate consumers and food makers about preparation and handling food.

    "Good morning, Meat and Poultry Hotline, may I help you," said a U.S. Department of Agriculture's Meat and Poultry Hotline worker.

    Workers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Meat and Poultry Hotline receive about 70,000 telephone calls a year from people who have food safety questions.

    "I am going to be going to a cookout this coming weekend and I am supposed to be bringing the raw hamburgers [meat]," said a caller. "So I am a little nervous traveling with hamburgers.  So I just wanted to get some advice on how I could do it safely."

    The Hotline started in 1985. and is staffed by food safety specialists like Tina Hanes.

    "This time of year we are getting grilling-type questions or questions from people who are asking about picnics and traveling with food," said Hanes.

    Workers at the hotline are a first line of defense in protecting consumers against food-borne illness.

    "I was just wondering. Can you reuse marinade that you have used on raw chicken on cooked meat," aske a caller.

    "You can reuse it as long as you do one important thing," answered a hotline worker. "That is to cook it off, you have to boil it first."

    The Meat and Poultry Hotline has expanded programs to include Spanish language services.  It also allows consumers to submit questions through e-mail, live chats and get information on social media sites like Twitter.  Kathy Bernard is project coordinator for the Meat and Poultry Hotline.

    "We teach consumers everyday, one to one, about how to handle food safely and to prevent food-borne illness," said Bernard. "In addition we also take calls that are related to complaints about food products that has lead to foods being recalled and we think that has probably saved lives."

    Dr. Robynne Chutkan is a Gastroenterologist at Georgetown Hospital in Washington, who says people can reduce their risk of getting food poisoning by taking some simple steps.

    "One of the most important things is to make sure your meat is adequately cooked," said Dr. Chutkan. "I do not recommend that anybody be having a rare hamburger when they are cooking out in the summer.  If you are cooking eggs, we have seen a lot of salmonella in the United States, you want to make sure the yokes are firm.  Raw eggs in [liquid] shakes and things like that are defiantly not a good idea. "

    U.S. health officials say investing in prevention programs to educate consumers is one of the best ways to reduce food-borne illness, making cooking and eating outdoors not only fun, but safe.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.