The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Ad Council are teaming up with 20th Century FOX to launch a series of public service advertisements featuring Alvin and the Chipmunks--an American animated music group.

Because children’s immune systems are not yet fully developed, they are one of the most high risk groups for contracting a foodborne illness. “Young children are at a higher risk for foodborne illness, and keeping them safe is a top priority for FSIS,” says deputy under secretary for food safety Alfred Almanza. “These familiar characters offer USDA a great opportunity to communicate this valuable public health message in a way to get the attention of children and parents.”

The TV, radio, web and out-of-home ads--aimed at educating children and parents about the importance of food safety--will be centered around four basic food safety steps:

Clean - Wash hands with soap and warm water before and after handling raw food. Clean all surfaces and utensils with soap and hot water. Wash all produce under running water before eating, cutting, or cooking.

Separate: Use separate plates and utensils to avoid cross-contamination between raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs and foods that are ready to eat (like already cooked foods or raw vegetables).

Cook: Cook foods to the safe temperature by using a food thermometer.

Chill: Chill foods promptly if not consuming immediately after cooking. Don’t leave food at room temperature for longer than two hours, or 1 hour if temperature is above 90°F.

These efforts are apart of the USDA and Ad Council’s Food Safe Families campaign, which also raises awareness about foodborne illness and encourages safe food habits for children and families. The ads will be supplemented with kid-friendly activities that can be found at