Clean, Separate, Cook, Chill: The USDA’s New Food Safety Campaign

published Jul 5, 2011
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

The USDA’s new food safety campaign reportedly cost $2 million and features eye-catching graphics and quirky TV ads. But in making food safety the responsibility of the public, does it miss the point?

The graphic above illustrates the main points of the campaign:

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

The campaign’s TV spots are memorably humorous, featuring a lobster chilling on a couch, a chicken facing off with a bunch of carrots, and a pig in a sauna. But as food politics expert Marion Nestle points out in The Atlantic, all of the concepts are about our responsibility for food safety.

But are most food safety issues caused by mishandling of food in home kitchens? Michael Batz, an expert at the Emerging Pathogens Institute, says no. He told GOOD magazine,

“[The] USDA’s consumer advice is helpful and those following these rules will certainly reduce their risk, but it’s important to note that many foodborne risks are largely outside of consumers’ control, whether we’re talking about how food is prepared in a neighborhood restaurants or the practices of farmers halfway around the world.”

What do you think of this new campaign? Will it change the way you handle food at home?

Related: Ask Karen: USDA Food Safety Info on Your Phone