Food Engineering
TECH FLASH

Food safety guides for groups most vulnerable to foodborne illness

August 28, 2012

USDA & FDA BookletsThe USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and FDA have partnered to create six booklets with food safety advice for populations that are most susceptible to foodborne illness. The booklets in this “at-risk series” are tailored to help older adults, transplant recipients, pregnant women and people with cancer, diabetes or HIV/AIDS reduce their risk for foodborne illness.

“These booklets are a much-needed resource for consumers who are at increased risk of getting sick from food,” says USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elisabeth Hagen. “The clear, understandable information in these booklets will help at-risk individuals feel confident about the safety of foods they prepare and eat. The booklets are also helpful to physicians and other health care providers for educating their at-risk patients about foodborne illnesses.”

Each booklet contains practical guidance on how to prevent foodborne illness. The information is presented in easy-to-read charts, illustrated how-tos and straightforward descriptions of why each group is at higher risk for foodborne illness and symptoms that may mean trouble. The booklets contain three tear-out cards with quick-reference tips for grocery shopping, cooking to the right temperature and eating at restaurants for times when taking along the entire booklet would be impractical.

“Everyone from farmers to food manufacturers to food preparers in the home has a role in food safety,” says FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods Michael Taylor. “It is important that consumers, particularly those who are at higher risk of foodborne illness, have information they can use to do their part in preventing illness by properly selecting and preparing foods.”

While booklets on five of these topics were previously produced in 2006, the two agencies this year created a sixth booklet for pregnant women, who are at particular risk for Listeriosis. The six new booklets list food safety resources, such as www.foodsafety.gov, that have been made available since the earlier copies were printed. They also include revised safe cooking temperatures for meat and poultry: 145°F for whole cuts of meat, followed by a three-minute rest time; 160°F for ground meats; and 165°F for all poultry and leftovers.

FSIS and FDA have mailed copies of the booklets to physicians around the country who treat patients in any of these six categories, and the booklets are available to the public free of charge. Additionally, the booklets are downloadable in PDF format at www.foodsafety.gov/poisoning/risk/index.html.

Contact USDA at 888-674-6854 on weekdays between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Eastern time, or email requests to USDA.