Just in time for summer grilling and picnic season, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is launching Mobile Ask Karen, a Web-based smartphone app that instantly answers food safety questions. The app is a mobile version of the existing Ask Karen website, a virtual food safety representative who offers advice about properly handling, storing, and preparing food to prevent illness. Perhaps she can even bring you up to speed on the latest food trends.
“FSIS has a wealth of tips and useful information to help as you shop, prepare, and store food,” said Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elisabeth Hagen. “People are using mobile devices more and more to get quick information, so we’ve adapted our tools, allowing more people to get food safety messages faster. Now, people can ‘Ask Karen’ right away when they need food safety information, without being tethered to a computer.”
The app currently is optimized for the iPhone, iPad, and Android devices.
In mobile format, people can take “Karen” with them to the grocery store, barbecue grill, farmers market, and into the kitchen. Anywhere mobile devices can access the Internet, at any time of day, consumers can get immediate answers to questions such as, “Is food safe if left out overnight?” or, “Should I use a wooden cutting board or a plastic one?”
In a continuing effort to engage consumers and encourage new behaviors when buying food or cooking at home, the agency created Mobile Ask Karen to make food safety information more accessible. Just like using Ask Karen from a computer, consumers can search for nearly 1,500 answers by topic or by product–and believe it or not, actually chat with a live representative.
Consumers can also e-mail or call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline (1-888-MPHotline).
President Obama’s Food Safety Working Group (FSWG) developed three core principles to help guide food safety in the United States: prioritizing prevention, strengthening surveillance and enforcement, and improving response and recovery. In its overall mission as a 21st century public health agency focused on ensuring a safe food supply, FSIS developed the Mobile Ask Karen app to provide consumers fast, reliable food safety information.
To start using Mobile Ask Karen now, go to m.AskKaren.gov on your phone’s browser.
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