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The Food Safety Discovery Zone Wraps Up Its Spring 2012 Southeastern Tour

The USDA’s Food Safety Discovery Zone has finished its spring 2012 tour, taking hands-on food safety lessons across the Southeast.  Stopping in the smallest towns and big cities like Dallas, we were able to educate over 175,000 people on preventing foodborne illness. Real food safety experts who work in meat and poultry plants near each town—like veterinarians, investigators, and other FSIS personnel—came out to staff the events. FSIS Administrator Al Almanza even came to the last stop in San Antonio. Here are some of my favorite moments along the way:

Seen and Heard: The USDA Food Safety Discovery Zone is a Big Hit at the B’More Healthy Expo

The USDA Food Safety Discovery Zone began its spring 2012 tour this past Saturday at Baltimore’s B’More Healthy Expo. Staffed by five food safety experts, the Discovery Zone was arguably one of the top attractions at the expo, giving interactive tours and food safety prizes to at least 5,000 visitors in one day. FSIS’ Bridgette Keefe-Hodgson, who communicates through American Sign Language, captured the attention of deaf and hearing visitors alike with her presentations.

Bridgette estimates that about 15 deaf expo attendees stopped by the Discovery Zone, and each stuck around for quite some time to see what they could learn. They were thrilled that FSIS has a series of YouTube videos in ASL, called SignFSIS, on preventing food poisoning, and Bridgette wrote down the URL for her pet project so the videos could be found later. One happy customer told her, “Wow, it is truly fantastic to see a deaf employee working at the FSIS booth.  For me, that makes it so much easier to ask food safety questions directly in ASL.”

The Food Safety Discovery Zone Cooks Up Food Safety with Culinary Stars at the Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show

Last month, thousands of foodies packed into the Washington Convention Center for the Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show to gain culinary wisdom from icons like Paula Deen, Guy Fieri, Giada De Laurentiis, and… the USDA Food Safety Discovery Zone.

The Food Safety Discovery Zone Reaches 2,000 Visitors at USDA’s 2011 Harvest Festival

It was a chilly but beautiful Friday when the Food Safety Discovery Zone joined vendors at the USDA Harvest Festival to celebrate the end of a successful growing season for the People’s Garden. Even among the jazz band, petting zoo, and the smell of kettle corn in the air, the giant yellow Food Safety Discovery Zone was impossible to miss. Designed to make food safety education fun for kids, the 40-foot long mobile exhibit attracted masses of visitors of all ages who wanted to know how to safely prepare the food they were buying at the festival or for the upcoming holidays.