The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is increasing the delivery of safe food handling and preparation information by expanding the hours of its Meat and Poultry Hotline and Ask Karen chat services. As detailed in the agency’s 2017-21 strategic plan, FSIS is focusing on the reduction of foodborne illness, and one way to contribute to that reduction is to increase public awareness of safe food handling information, according to the group.
FSIS’ Meat and Poultry Hotline has been educating consumers since 1985. The toll-free telephone service assists in the prevention of foodborne illnesses by answering consumers’ questions about the safe storage, handling and preparation of meat, poultry and egg products. The hotline now is open for two additional hours, from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. (Eastern).
“Our hotline provides a valuable service in educating consumers about how to safely prepare food,” said FSIS Administrator Al Almanza. “By keeping the hotline open an additional two hours, we are expanding our reach to allow more consumers, including those on the West Coast, to have their food safety questions answered.”
The hotline is accompanied by Ask Karen, a 24-hour online service that provides answers to thousands of frequently asked questions and also allows consumers to email or live-chat with a food safety specialist during operating hours.
For 32 years the Meat and Poultry Hotline has answered questions about food manufacturer recalls, food poisoning, food safety during power outages, and the inspection of meat, poultry and egg products. From novice cooks roasting their first turkey to experienced food handlers asking about foodborne bacteria, the Meat and Poultry Hotline has answered more than three million calls since its inception, according to FSIS.
“Our hotline staff are experts in their field and have backgrounds in nutrition, food technology and public health,” said Almanza. “Experts are available to talk with people in English and Spanish, so we are able to help address the food safety needs of diverse communities.”
Consumers can contact the Meat and Poultry Hotline to speak to a live food expert at 1-888-674-6854, or visit Ask Karen to chat or email (in English or Spanish), Monday-Friday.