Social Media Campaign to Help Families Prevent Food Poisoning

The multimedia campaign includes an extensive social media campaign under the title The Food Safe Families announced by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in time for the July 4th holiday and the start of summer when foodborne illnesses tend to increase—a time when many families celebrate with food. It's also a time when foodborne illnesses tend to increase with more outdoor meals, and other factors that increase the risk for disease-causing bacteria in food.

The Ad Council joined up with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, in partnership with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as the first ever joint national multimedia public service campaign to help families prevent food poisoning in the home.

The multimedia campaign includes an extensive social media campaign under the title The Food Safe Families announced by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in time for the July 4th holiday and the start of summer when foodborne illnesses tend to increase—a time when many families celebrate with food. It’s also a time when foodborne illnesses tend to increase with more outdoor meals, and other factors that increase the risk for disease-causing bacteria in food.

The new Food Safe Families public service campaign aims to raise awareness about the risks of foodborne illness and educate consumers, especially parents, to take specific actions to reduce their personal risk. Through humorous over-the-top depictions of the four key safe food handling behaviors, the messages urge parents to keep their families safer from food poisoning and deliver clear steps to reduce their risk by following safe food handling behaviors:

  • Clean: Clean kitchen surfaces, utensils, and hands with soap and water while preparing food.
  • Separate: Separate raw meats from other foods by using different cutting boards.
  • Cook: Cook foods to the right temperature by using a food thermometer.
  • Chill: Chill raw and prepared foods promptly.

The campaign includes English and Spanish-language social media integrated with television, radio, print and Web advertising. The program includes a new FoodSafety.gov Facebook page and outreach via the FoodSafety.gov Twitter handle, both emphasizing “Check Your Steps.” All campaign elements direct audiences to visit FoodSafety.gov, a recently refreshed and updated site in English and Spanish, where they can learn about food safety practices. Consumers can also access “Ask Karen”  an online database with answers to nearly 1,500 questions related to preventing foodborne illnesses.

“When it comes to food safety, our number one priority is prevention,” said USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elisabeth Hagen. “Knowing that the risk of foodborne illnesses may never be zero, it is important for us to get the word out about what consumers can do.”

At USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, the primary focus is preventing foodborne illness by making sure that industry produces safe meat, poultry and processed egg products and the department is constantly looking for ways to improve that system.