Dumbing down food safety: Alvin and the Chipmunks to school kids on food safety

If food safety was simple, as so many industry, academic and government types remind us, then why do so many people get sick?

21D2EF65-8F55-41B6-AE9A5094BA6BFC6B_mediumThe U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Ad Council are teaming up with 20th Century FOX to launch a series of public service advertisements featuring Alvin and the Chipmunks.

The TV, radio, web and out-of-home ads–aimed at educating children and parents about the importance of food safety–will be centered around four basic food safety steps:

Clean – Wash hands with soap and warm water before and after handling raw food.


Cook: Cook foods to the safe temperature by using a food thermometer.

Chill: Chill foods promptly if not consuming immediately after cooking.

Warm water is irrelevant and USDA knows this, but they continue to go with soundbites.

Also, USDA forgets one step the World Health Organization likes to include: Source food from safe sources.

And Jason Lee: Really?

US taxpayers continue to pay to be told they suck at food safety

In 2010, I and 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 Terry Frenchfocus on blaming consumers?

None was forthcoming.

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

Today the Ad Council, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are partnering with Food Network’s World Extreme Chef winner, Terry French, to help promote food safe practices in every kitchen.

According to the taxpayer funded promos, Chef French’s unique experiences, rock ‘n roll approach to food – sounds more Journey than Stones — and vibrant personality made him the perfect candidate to promote food safe practices for the USDA and the Ad Council. By the final episode of the Food Network’s World Extreme Chef, French wowed judges with the perfect bite to receive the title of World Extreme Chef. French graduated from the Scottsdale Culinary Institute and had apprenticeships in continental, European and Asian cuisine following his completion of two world tours with the U.S. Navy. His catering company, Culinary Dreams, creates unique dining experiences and he gives back with his nonprofit organization, Chefs for Life.

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.