New food safety brochure available

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The Department of Agriculture has released a new brochure for consumers, "Food Safety and Food Security: What Consumers Need to Know."

The brochure, developed by the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service, provides useful tips for safe food preparation. In a concise and easy-to-follow format, the publication lays out comprehensive and practical information about safe food handling practices, foodborne illness, product recalls, keeping food safe during an emergency, and reporting suspected instances of food tampering.

The brochure, available in English and Spanish, is the latest in a series of food security guidelines issued by the USDA-FSIS. The resource is part of the agency's continuing effort to protect public health by preventing and responding to contamination of the food supply, throughout the farm-to-table continuum.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, the USDA has implemented an extensive program to secure American agricultural production and protect consumers. The agency has approximately 7,600 personnel at federally inspected food establishments nationwide and plans to add another 80 positions this year. These individuals—consumer safety inspectors and officers, compliance officers, and veterinarians—are trained to look for signs that may suggest intentional contamination and adulteration of meat, poultry, and egg products.

The USDA has added 18 new veterinarian positions supporting the agricultural quarantine inspection staff at borders, ports of entry, and farms. It has also added 20 new food import surveillance officers to ports of entry to strengthen its reinspection program for imported meat and poultry.

The agency has participated in several federal and state drills to test and improve response procedures. It is in the process of creating networks that will increase laboratory capacity to enable a rapid and sufficient response to animal health emergencies.