A partnership of industry, government and consumer groups working together to ensure that consumers and consumer educators have free access to evidence-based, action-able educational messages and resources—it sounds almost too good to be true. But that is just what the nonprofit Partnership for Food Safety Education is all about. If your company, agency, trade association or organization is not a partner in this effort, then now is the time to be inspired!

The partnership is convening hundreds of educators at the National Consumer Food Safety Education Conference 2014 this December in Arlington, VA, and over the past 2 years has added dozens of free resources and services to support the work of health and food safety educators.

Who Are BAC Fighters?
The partnership calls these educators “BAC Fighters” (because they fight illness-causing bacteria), and they can be dietitians, nutritionists, parents, caregivers, nurses, local, state or federal public health officials, corporate food safety professionals, environmental health professionals, food retailers, food producers and classroom teachers (Figure 1).  

In addition to its commitment to convening BAC Fighters, the partnership is also committed to telling their stories. Across the U.S., BAC Fighters have an enormous impact on the health of people of all ages in their communities, reaching an estimated 7.5 million Americans each year with important food poisoning prevention programming. A blog at www.teamfoodsafety.org features stories of the creative ways health and food safety educators engage with people on the topic of food safety.

Free partnership programming resources are very important to BAC Fighters and to consumers. The partnership is probably best known as the originator of the four core, evidence-based consumer safe-handling messages of Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill, and for the original Fight BAC!® consumer education campaign released in 1998.

The partnership’s website at www.fightbac.org is a leading resource for consumers and educators alike. Recently added to fightbac.org are the Food Safe Families Action Pledge to encourage health and food safety educators nationwide to use the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Food Safe Families Toolkit; Fight BAC! Like a Producepro to support consumers in reducing risk of illness from fresh fruits and vegetables at home; and Fight BAC! at Picnic Park for kids, which includes an educator’s guide with information on how the curriculum meets core standards in schools (see “A BAC Fighter Speaks”), two simple kids’ activities, the Ten Least Wanted mini poster and a PowerPoint quiz.

The partnership released Perfect Picnic for kids for iPod, iPad and iPhone. It teaches kids about safe food handling while allowing them to build the most awesome picnic park in town by making sure their visitors have a happy and healthy time.

A BAC Fighter Speaks

“I have been using Fight BAC! materials for many years. The four food safety messages are very important and easy for the kids to remember. My students are very enthusiastic and like to share the food safety information they learn in the classroom with their families at home.”
— Linda, Consumer Sciences Teacher, Allentown, PA

Since deepening its commitment to serving educators in its 2011 strategic plan, the partnership has added programming to support educators in expanding their knowledge of food safety topics and introducing them to turnkey resources they can build into their public outreach. Building on a successful weekly e-card outreach program that has served educators since 2004, the partnership in 2012 added an online resource library, live webinars that are free to educators, knowledge exchange conference calls and a LinkedIn group called Team Food Safety.

Since the creation of Fight BAC!, the partnership has been involved in the Be Food Safe and Food Safe Families campaigns, still teaching the four core messages. To see more great campaigns such as Recall Basics, Holiday Food Safety, Food Safety Mythbusters and Fight BAC! Goes to Child Care, visit www.fightbac.org/campaigns.  

In 2013, the partnership developed a plan for leadership in evaluating consumer food safety education efforts and impacts. That plan lays the groundwork to better unite educators, and public and private sector partners in addressing how to meaningfully evaluate the outcomes of consumer food safety education programming efforts.

Consumer Food Safety Education Conference
The National Consumer Food Safety Education Conference 2014, Together: A Food Safe America, December 4–5 in Arlington, VA, will be a place for all stakeholders to discuss concepts and tactics for changing consumer food safety behaviors. Confirmed speakers include Dr. Lynn Frewer, chair of food and society at Newcastle University, UK; Michael R. Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; and Brian Ronholm, acting undersecretary for food safety at USDA.

The conference will feature the latest research on consumer attitudes and behaviors from Cooperative Extension and government agencies, and breakout sessions that focus on assessing the impact of food safety education programs, helping consumers navigate food safety information and reaching target audiences.

Registration is currently open. For information on the conference or to register, visit www.teamfoodsafety.org/2014.

The Partnership for Food Safety Education received a 2013 Parents Choice Award for the Fight BAC! website for serving young people, and the partnership earned a Top-Rated Nonprofit 2014 designation by Great Nonprofits. Reviews can be found at greatnonprofits.org/reviews/partnership-for-food-safety-education.  

The Partnership for Food Safety Education was formed in 1997 in response to an independent panel report, “Putting the Food Handling Issue on the Table: The Pressing Need for Food Safety Education,” which called for a national public-private partnership to educate American consumers about safe food handling and preparation at home. The mission of the partnership is to end illness and death from foodborne infection in the United States.

The partnership is funded through annual partner contributions, federal grants, and other grants and contributions. For a list of current contributing partners, visit www.fightbac.org/partners.  

For additional information on the partnership and to find out how you can join, see www.fightbac.org/about-us or email an inquiry to info@fightbac.org.

Your company or organization can play a role in the partnership and by doing so extend your values for safe and healthy food to the support of consumer efforts to reduce risk of illness.

Judy A. Harrison, Ph.D., is a professor and extension foods specialist in the department of foods and nutrition at the University of Georgia.

Shelley Feist is the executive director of The Partnership for Food Safety Education.