Do you remember how you first heard about the latest round of Salmonella in the peanut butter? Was it on the evening news, in the paper, or did you hear about it through Facebook or Twitter? If you’re in the under 30 crowd you might fit into the latter category. Social networking sites, like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace are increasingly being utilized for up-to-the-minute recall information.
During the recent Salmonella outbreak, the United States Department of Health and Human Services – specifically the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – engaged in a heavy social media push to inform citizens about the health risks and product recalls. As a result, the CDC Social Media Center was created as a central hub for harnessing the power of social networking to spread recall information.
Twitter is one of the sites currently used in the assortment of links. Twitter allows users to “follow” one another’s “tweets” about what they do during the day. The website is on the rise among medical professionals and there are accounts for all ranges of industry available. Why not food safety?
Federal health agencies have been experimenting with new Internet tools, dubbed Web 2.0, that make it easier to deliver information directly to the public. The "Health 2.0" movement got a big boost with the arrival of President Barack Obama, who is pushing federal agencies to use the tools to make the federal government more transparent and participatory.
Current news about FDA recalls can be found @FDArecalls and public health updates from the CDC can be found @CDCemergency. The only snag is you have to sign up in order to receive tweets from the FDA, but hey, its free. After all, you’re no one if you’re not on Twitter.