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USDA Study Underscores Importance of Food Safety Education Month

USDA Tuesday released results from the final year of a five-year study that observed how consumers prepared meals.

The study observed food safety behaviors, including participants’ thermometer use for ground pork sausage, handwashing, and cleaning and sanitizing food preparation surfaces. The most recent data shows that 87 percent of participants self-reported they washed their hands before starting to cook in the test kitchen. However, only 44 percent of participants were observed doing so before meal preparation. In the study, 50 percent of participants used a food thermometer to check the doneness of the sausage patties.

However, 50 percent of those participants did not check all the food. The study used a harmless tracer bacteria, which was injected into the pork sausage, to simulate the spread of foodborne illness-causing bacteria. Among the surfaces tested, the kitchen sink was most often contaminated, with 34 percent of participants contaminating the sink during meal preparation.

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