Every year 48 million Americans get sick with food poisoning, with 3,000 of these victims dying, according to the Centers for Disease Control. A disproportionate number of cases fall on summer holidays, as Americans take to their outdoor grills with plenty of enthusiasm, but not always the requisite expertise. More telling, warm temperatures promote the growth of bacteria.
To combat food poisoning this July 4th weekend, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has partnered with the Ad Council and JWT New York to cook up a wide-ranging outdoor advertising campaign, called Food Safe Families, publicizing the risks of foodborne illness and safe techniques for food handling and preparation.
The pro bono campaign consists of public service announcements on billboards, bus shelters and other out-of-home locations nationwide, as well as video spots running on Walmart’s Checkout TV Network.
It also includes English and Spanish-language television, radio, print, and Web advertising, as well as an integrated social media program.
The billboard ads highlight the importance of checking the internal temperature of hamburgers and other food made from beef with a food thermometer to ensure it reaches a minimum temperature of 160° F. The ads also promote safe food handling and preparation techniques, including cleaning kitchen surfaces, utensils, and hands with soap and water while preparing food; separating raw meats from other foods by using different cutting boards; and chilling raw and prepared foods promptly.
Video ads reminding consumers to chill raw and prepared foods are running on Walmart’s Checkout TV Network at 600 stores nationwide, where they should reach around 16 million customers. All campaign elements encourage visitors to visit FoodSafety.gov to learn more, as well as “Ask Karen,” an online database of food-related questions.
The campaign is a continuation of earlier efforts by the USDA in collaboration with the Ad Council, including PSAs about safe food handling and preparation which appeared on Walmart’s Checkout TV November 14-30, for last year’s Thanksgiving holiday.