By: Sue Borra, RD, Chief Health and Wellness Officer and Executive Director FMI Foundation and Hilary Thesmar, PhD, RD, CFS, Chief, Food and Product Safety Officer and Senior Vice President, Food Safety Programs and Chairman, Partnership for Food Safety Education
September isn’t just National Family Meals Month™ (NFMM).
It’s also National Food Safety Education Month, the period every year when the Partnership for Food Safety Education (PFSE) devotes as many resources as it can to getting its message out about what families can do to reduce their risk of food poisoning.
This isn’t just a coincidence either, according to Shelley Feist, PFSE executive director. In fact, PFSE and the FMI Foundation, the motivating force behind National Family Meals Month, go way back.
“FMI is a founder of this partnership,” Feist said. “It was one of the first organizations to make an investment 20 years ago to get this organization up and running.”
And, in fact, the two efforts — to encourage families to eat one more meal each week and to pay attention to handling food safely at home — go hand in hand.
Research has proven that consumers will pay attention to what Feist calls food safety prompts that lead to greater compliance regarding such things as using thermometers when cooking and adequately washing produce.
“So working with the FMI Foundation, we determined that the development of recipes with food safety instructions would be a great idea,” she said.
That’s why you can go to the partnership’s web site, FightBAC.org (Get it?) to find recipes that are simple and easy for families to prepare AND include easy-to-follow instructions on how to prepare those meals safely.
To kick off National Family Meals Month/National Food Safety Education Month, PFSE presented a webinar for its network of 14,000 food safety educators that included both important messages: Talk to consumers about preparing food safely and about eating one more meal each week together.
“A lot of our educators are working with consumers on food safety as well as nutrition, so it’s a good match for them,” Feist said.
Finally, Feist said, a vital part of PFSE’s work involves the cooperation of food retailers and those working on the front lines in America’s grocery stores.
“The grocery store aisle is where many families make the decision about what to have for dinner,” she said.
“That point of actually making food decisions and preparing food is the best possible time to talk about food safety,” Feist said. “That’s why we really look forward to working with retailers on recipes and outreach because there is such power on the retailer’s part on food that gets prepared at home.”