Food Safety Messages are Tailored to Generations X, Y

To bring food safety awareness to Generations X and Y and those who are employed in retail foodservices, Iowa State University Extension has turned to online video, with an eye toward making sure food safety messages reach all audiences.

"We're moving away from traditional communications of text-based food safety messages," said Catherine Strohbehn, a hotel, restaurant and institutional management specialist at ISU. She explained that another way for online viewers to look at food safety information includes increased visuals. "Our food safety project team developed a 'Yuck Photo Gallery. For example, agar plates illustrate microbial growth from people that have dried their hands on an apron and then touched the agar plate. There are also photos that show microbial growth from hands that have touched refrigerator door handles. The point is for people to think, 'Yuck! Don't touch my food!'"

They hope that young people who work in food service, or those who have trouble reading big blocks of text, will get the food safety message. The Yuck Photo Gallery and other food safety resources are posted online at www.extension.iastate.edu/foodsafety.

Strohbehn, who manages the site with support from the Food Safety Consortium, is seeking to increase the use of podcasts and streaming videos that were first loaded on the site to show a televised guide to food safety. The video covered employee practices, time and temperature abuse, and sanitization.

Some pages in the site are useful for the implementation of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) programs for institutions such as schools and assisted living facilities, as well child care centers and restaurants. The programs are aimed at intervening where food contamination might occur. All the plans have been updated to reflect Iowa's food code enacted in 2005.

The Web site also ties into an ISU effort that examines consumers' motivation to practice food safety properly. The new study, led by Dr. Susan Arendt, is funded by a USDA grant. It examines such questions as why people don't follow proper food handling practices, even when they know it's the right thing to do.

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