CHICAGO – September is National Food Safety Education Month and the perfect time to teach consumers the importance of food safety and reducing the risk of food poisoning. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics urges everyone to take time during September to reinforce proper food safety practices in their homes.
Each year in the United States, about 48 million people get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die from foodborne disease. However, many people don’t recognize the serious nature of food poisoning and often confuse symptoms with those of the common flu. “Food poisoning is a legitimate concern and it is essential that everyone understands the risk and learns proper food safety practices,” says registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy Spokesperson Torey Armul.
Food Safety Education Is Key
Reducing food poisoning by just 1 percent would keep approximately half a million Americans from getting sick each year. One of the best ways to reduce the risk of food poisoning is to educate consumers on proper food safety practices that they can implement in their homes.
“Many people assume restaurant meals are a cause of food poisoning, but in reality one-third of all food poisoning cases are caused by food prepared at home,” Armul says. “Keeping food safe is critical, whether cooking a holiday feast or reheating leftovers.”
A University of California-Davis consumer research study revealed that many consumers overlook safe food preparation practices in their homes. According to the study, 65 percent of participants did not wash their hands before starting meal preparation and 40 percent of participants undercooked their chicken.
“Education is just the first step,” Armul says. “Making those food safety practices part of the food preparation routine is next.”
Resources Are Available
Food safety education is critical - that is why the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has partnered with ConAgra Foods to develop the Home Food Safety program. Through this program, the Academy offers a library of free resources on www.HomeFoodSafety.org. The website includes articles, downloadable guides, how-to videos, educational infographics and much more.
For food safety information on-the-go, the Home Food Safety program also offers the free Is My Food Safe? mobile app. This app includes a food storage guide, a complete list of proper internal cooking temperatures and a food safety quiz to test your knowledge.
During September and beyond, take time to remember the importance of food safety.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Academy is committed to improving the nation’s health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Visit the Academy at www.eatright.org