USDA, HHS and Ad Council Launch New Public Service Advertisements to Help Families Protect Themselves from Food Poisoning in Time for July 4th

New research from the International Food Information Council Foundation (IFIC) indicates that many Americans are not taking the necessary food safety steps to prevent foodborne illness in the home

Jul 02, 2013, 14:29 ET from Ad Council

WASHINGTON, July 2, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- 81 million Americans are expected to barbeque this July 4th holiday, marking the start of summer - a time when incidents of foodborne illness, commonly known as food poisoning, tend to surge. In preparation for Independence Day and barbeque season, the Ad Council and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service, in partnership with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are launching new public service advertisements (PSAs) as part of their national Food Safe Families campaign, the first multimedia effort designed to raise awareness of the risks of foodborne illness in the home.

Foodborne illness is a serious public health threat in the United States. The CDC estimates that approximately 1 in 6 Americans (48 million people) suffer from foodborne illness each year, resulting in roughly 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. Because warm weather events often present an opportunity for bacteria to thrive and high temperatures cause bacteria to multiply more rapidly, the summer months typically see a spike in reports of foodborne illness and outbreaks.

"Safe food handling is just as important at the grill as it is in the kitchen to help reduce the risk of foodborne illness," said USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elisabeth Hagen. "The Food Safe Families campaign shares simple, but important reminders of steps consumers can take year round to help keep their families safe from food poisoning."  

New research released recently by International Food Information Council Foundation (IFIC) indicates that many Americans are not taking the necessary food safety steps to prevent foodborne illness in the home. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of families are not using a food thermometer regularly to check the temperature of meat and poultry and one-third (33 percent) are not using different or freshly cleaned cutting boards to prevent cross-contamination between different food products (such as raw meat and produce).

"Our research has shown that many consumers are confident that their current cooking practices are safe, when in fact they're not following the recommended safe food handling and preparation guidelines," said Peggy Conlon, President and CEO of the Ad Council. "Our goal with the new PSAs is to raise awareness of foodborne illness and encourage families to both learn and practice key steps that will help keep their families safe from foodborne illness."

Created pro bono by ad agency Partners + Napier, the new Food Safe Families PSAs follow the story of Maria, a TV Chef on the fictional show Recipes for Disaster who unintentionally makes the wrong food safety decisions when preparing her dishes. By highlighting her missteps, families receive fun and humorous reminders about how to take steps to reduce their personal risk for food poisoning and highlight the following safe food behaviors:

  • Clean: Wash hands with soap and warm water before and after handling raw food. Clean all surfaces and utensils with soap and hot water.  Wash all produce under running water before eating, cutting, or cooking.
  • Separate: Use separate plates and utensils to avoid cross-contamination between raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs and foods that are ready to eat (like already cooked foods or raw vegetables).
  • Cook: Cook foods to the safe temperature by using a food thermometer.
  • Chill: Chill foods promptly if not consuming immediately after cooking.

"Cooking is a learned habit that's hard to replace. Especially, when they've been passed down through the family. That's why we took a comedic approach to food safety," said Michael Kennedy, Sr. Copywriter at Partners + Napier.  "We can have fun pointing out the bad habits, without pointing fingers. Maria's our loveable scapegoat. By educating our audience about the food safety steps, and make them laugh as we do it, people are more likely to add the steps to their routine, and share the PSAs with friends and family."

The new Recipe for Disaster PSAs include an English and Spanish-language online video, launching today with additional online videos, radio, print, and Web advertising to be distributed later this summer. All campaign elements direct audiences to visit, where they can learn about food safety practices. Consumers can also access "Ask Karen," an online database with answers to nearly 1,500 questions related to preventing foodborne illnesses in both English and Spanish.

The campaign has also partnered with TV personality Martie Duncan of Food Network Star Season 8 and to help dispel many of the common myths around safe food preparation and offer relevant cooking and entertaining tips through integrated social media and public relations efforts.  

"I've had food poisoning. It's awful, it's dangerous and unbelievably, thousands of Americans die from it each year," said Martie Duncan, Food Network Star. "For that reason, I've partnered with the Ad Council to share some simple precautions as you cook and serve all of your favorite foods this 4th of July. I want to help keep America food safe and foodborne illness away from your holiday fun." 

Launched in June of 2012, Food Safe Families is the first joint national multimedia public service campaign designed to help families prevent food poisoning in the home. Since launch, the campaign has received over $57 million in donated media and campaign website, has received over 4 million visits. Per the Ad Council model, the PSAs are distributed to media outlets nationwide and run in air time and space donated by the media.

The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service ( is the public health regulatory agency in USDA responsible for ensuring that meat, poultry, and processed egg products are safe, wholesome, and accurately labeled. To accomplish this, FSIS employs approximately 7,600 inspection personnel who enforce the Federal Meat Inspection Act, the Poultry Products Inspection Act, and the Egg Products Inspection Act. During Fiscal Year 2010, FSIS inspection personnel ensured public health requirements were met by inspecting 147 million head of livestock, nine billion poultry carcasses, and 2.6 billion pounds of processed egg products.

The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation's food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

CDC works 24/7 saving lives, protecting people from health threats, and saving money to have a more secure nation.  Whether these threats are chronic or acute, manmade or natural, human error or deliberate attack, global or domestic, CDC is the U.S. health protection agency. 

Partners + Napier
Partners + Napier is a creative ideas agency dedicated to creating engagement through four core capabilities: branding, advertising, digital, and shopper marketing. With offices in New York City, Rochester, Atlanta, and San Francisco, the agency serves a diverse portfolio of clients, including Constellation Brands, Capital One, Delta Private Jets, and more. Partners + Napier is a Project: WorldWide agency. For more information, please visit

The Ad Council

The Ad Council is a private, non-profit organization with a rich history of marshaling volunteer talent from the advertising and media industries to deliver critical messages to the American public. Having produced literally thousands of public service advertising campaigns addressing the most pressing social issues of the day, the Ad Council has affected, and continues to affect, tremendous positive change by raising awareness, inspiring action and saving lives. To learn more about the Ad Council and its campaigns, visit, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter or view our PSAs on YouTube.

SOURCE Ad Council