Taxpayer-funded food safety messages that suck on Independence Day

An Australian reminded me last weekend how much the food safety adverts from USDA suck.

The ones with the pig in a sauna.

I had a back story, and as usual, my partner rolled her eyes three seconds in, figuring it was a 10-minute diatribe about what an awful band Journey was., but, here it is, in all its boredom.

In 2010, I and about about everyone else in the small incestuous world of food safety, was contacted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and asked if we would advise on a food safety communications campaign they were planning with the Ad Council.

It became clear from the beginning that USDA was committed to the cook, clean, chill separate dogma.

I asked questions like, do those messages work? Where is the evidence. Why so much focus on blaming consumers?

None was forthcoming.

It also soon became evident this was not an evidence based-exercise.

Now, on Independence Day (which I explained to an Australian was not about birthright but human rights), Americans are getting reminded all over again using food safety messages that don’t work. Or at least there’s no evidence they work.

There’s lots of vanity presses out there, promoting all kinds of stuff that lack scientific evidence. They might as well be publishing food-safety horoscopes.

The last thing the food safety biz needs is more apologists promoting messages that don’t work.

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About Douglas Powell

A former professor of food safety and the publisher of, Powell is passionate about food, has five daughters, and is an OK goaltender in pickup hockey. Download Doug’s CV here. Dr. Douglas Powell editor, retired professor, food safety 3/289 Annerley Rd Annerley, Queensland 4103 61478222221 I am based in Brisbane, Australia, 15 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time