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 On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

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.
Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelteri
X
Scott Bobb
July 30, 2014 8:16 PM
Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video A Summer Camp for All the World

VIDEO: During workshops and social gatherings, the Global Youth Village summer camp encourages young people to cooperate and embrace their differences, while learning to communicate with people from other countries. VOA's Deborah Block has more.
Video

Video From Cantankerous Warlock to Incorruptible Priest, 'Harry Potter' Actor Embraces Diverse Roles

He’s perhaps best known as Mad Eye Moody, the whimsical wizard in the Harry Potter franchise. But character actor Brendan Gleeson's resume includes dozens of films, and he embraces all the characters he inhabits with equal passion. In an interview with VOA’s Penelope Poulou, Gleeson discussed his new drama "Calvary" and his secret to success.

AppleAndroid