If you love to nibble on raw cookie dough, eat your hamburgers really rare, or leave food sitting on the kitchen counter to cool before refrigerating it, the Partnership for Food Safety Education is targeting you in its new food safety education initiative.
Education Initiative is Part of Broad Food Safety Reinvention Project
Each year, thousands of serious, food-borne illnesses are treated and reported in the United States. To attack this problem, in 1996, President Clinton announced his National Food Safety Initiative. Knowing that no one Federal agency could solve the problem of food safety alone, the President directed the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to work together on improving the safety of Americaís food supply. By early 1997, these three cooperating agencies were moving full-speed ahead, combining resources to develop a comprehensive program to reduce food-borne illnesses.
In 1997, industry, government, and consumer groups formed the Partnership for Food Safety Education to inform the public about safe food handling to help reduce foodborne illness. (The Federal agencies include are the Department of Agriculture, The Food and Drug Administration, the Center for Disease Control, the Department of Education, and the Environment Protection Agency.) The partnership produced educational materials targeted to all segments of the population, including an on-line food safety quiz and useful new publications. But, one element of the new education campaign promised to be most effective: "Fight Bac," the educational program aimed at school-age children, focusing on how children themselves, and their families, can "Fight Bacteria" to stay healthy."
The "Fight BAC Campaign" -- A Grass-Roots Success Story
The FDAís Nashville District Office responded quickly to the education challenge and introduced several programs to promote the new food safety initiatives.
Ms. Josephine Franklin, a first grade teacher at the Westwood Elementary School in Memphis, Tennessee, was introduced to "Fight BAC" by the local Agricultural Extension Service at a workshop in June 1998. She whole-heartedly embraced the campaign and developed a "Fight BAC" unit of study to use in her class during the 1998-1999 school year. It was a rousing success! The students wrote their own stories, developed a PowerPoint presentation on food safety, and even wrote a rap song while they learned first-hand about safe food handling and preparation, as well as science-related careers.
Ms. Franklinís lessons in food safety are aimed at the whole family. Knowing the impact children can have on their parents and siblings, she urged her students to take these food safety messages home to other family members. And, it worked! One student even went home and told her parent not to eat raw cookie dough because of Salmonella.
Ms. Franklin was so impressed by what her students were able to do and learn, both inside and outside the classroom, that she easily convinced local FDA officials to observe and videotape her class on March 1, 1999. One especially delightful segment of the video shows Ms. Franklinís first-graders using "Fight BAC" materials on the Internet. Once they find the site, they happily chant the most important point of their lesson: "Clean, Separate, Cook, Chill!" "Clean, Separate, Cook, Chill!" These (and other) songs and chants help children remember critical messages.
Ms. Franklinís students enjoyed several rewards for their great efforts - - and hers. First, they were delighted seeing themselves on the televised video. In fact, the videotape was so effective that clips from it also were used as part of a continuous loop of information about the "Fight BAC" campaign featured at a national meeting of science teachers. In addition, Ms. Franklinís class used some of the "Fight BAC" materials to win first place in the science category at the Shelby County Science Fair.
September is "back to school" month for Americaís kids. September 1999 also marked the fifth annual National Food Safety Education Month sponsored by the International Food Safety Council and supported by many public and private sector organizations.
To learn more about food safety, contact Sandra S. Baxter, Public Affairs Specialist, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Nashville District Office, at (615) 781-5372 [ext. 122] or visit the following Internet sites:
Food and Drug Administration
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