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Current Position:Home » News » General News » Topic

USDA Celebrates One Year of Mobile Ask Karen, Food Safety on Your Smartphone

Zoom in font  Zoom out font Published: 2012-05-09  Origin: USDA  Authour: Catherine Cochran  Views: 131
Core Tip: FSIS is celebrating the first anniversary of Mobile Ask Karen, the mobile app that allows consumers to ask food safety questions at any time of day, instantly from their smartphones.
Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is celebrating the first anniversary of Mobile Ask Karen, the mobile app that allows consumers to ask food safety questions at any time of day, instantly from their smartphones. The agency created a mobile version of Ask Karen, its virtual food safety representative who offers advice about properly handling, storing, and preparing food to prevent illness, last May to reach consumers where they are used to receiving timely information.

"Making food safety information easily accessible to consumers when they most need it is an important tool in preventing foodborne illness. Mobile Ask Karen puts answers to food safety questions literally in consumers' hands and helps them apply good food safety habits at home," said USDA Under Secretary Dr. Elisabeth Hagen. "As people become more familiar with the content in Mobile Ask Karen, we believe it will help prevent foodborne illness caused by improper food handling."

Since the launch of the app a year ago, traffic to Ask Karen has increased 15 fold. More people now visit Ask Karen through mobile devices alone than visited the site through a web browser in the previous year. Additionally, Ask Karen and Mobile Ask Karen have a nearly 99 percent self-service rate, meaning that nearly all users are able to find the answers to their questions. Some of the most frequently asked questions on the app include, "Can E. coli be associated with poultry?" and "At what temperatures do bacteria grow the fastest?" Consumers often need answers to these and other questions when they are not able to sit in front of a laptop computer. FSIS' Mobile Ask Karen app provides consumers access to answers to these and other food safety questions when and where they need this information—when they are in stores buying groceries or in their kitchens or at a grill cooking dinner.

Both Mobile Ask Karen, which is optimized for iOS and Android devices, and the desktop-based Ask Karen are available 24 hours a day atm.AskKaren.gov orAskKaren.gov, with nearly 1,500 food safety answers searchable by topic and by product. Consumers can also e-mail, chat with a live representative, or call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline directly from the app. To use these features on the app, simply choose "Contact Us" from the menu. The live chat option and the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline, 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854), are available in English and Spanish from l0 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET Monday through Friday.

Mobile Ask Karen is part of a multi-faceted USDA initiative to prevent foodborne illness. Recently, as part of this initiative, USDA joined the Ad Council, the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to launch Food Safe Families, a consumer food safety education campaign. It is the first joint public service campaign to empower families to further reduce their risk of foodborne illness at home by checking their key food safety steps: clean, separate, cook, and chill.
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