Parents: Teach Food Safety in the Kitchen

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A national survey released today indicates most consumers were "home-schooled" on hamburger preparation, with 57 percent of consumers saying a parent taught them how to cook burgers. Another 29 percent said their hamburger-making skills were self-taught.

In the beef industry, we know that 'the way it has always been done' is not good enough when it comes to food safety. That's why we invest in a wide range of initiatives to ensure we continue to produce the safest food possible

With school starting, parents can benefit from some continuing education about cooking safe, delicious hamburgers - and passing along food preparation skills to their children.

A national survey released today indicates most consumers were "home-schooled" on hamburger preparation, with 57 percent of consumers saying a parent taught them how to cook burgers. Another 29 percent said their hamburger-making skills were self-taught.

Hamburgers and other ground beef products should be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 160 F, as measured by an instant-read meat thermometer. However, only 13 percent of consumers in this latest survey correctly identified 160 F as the proper cooking temperature for ground beef to ensure safety, and only 9 percent said they learned to use a meat thermometer to determine when a hamburger is done.

"In the beef industry, we know that 'the way it has always been done' is not good enough when it comes to food safety. That's why we invest in a wide range of initiatives to ensure we continue to produce the safest food possible," said Mandy Carr, Ph.D., executive director of beef safety research for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. "Consumers can be part of the food safety innovation process by following proper in-home food safety practices, including cooking ground beef to 160 F."

The survey also showed retail establishments are getting the word out about the best in-home food safety practices. Half of survey respondents mentioned seeing information in a supermarket about proper handling and cooking of fresh meat. The top two tips or techniques consumers said they saw in supermarkets were related to hand washing and cooking meats to recommended temperatures using a meat thermometer.

The survey was conducted from July 30-Aug. 4, 2009. The national survey of 1,007 American adults including 971 beef eaters had a margin of error of +/-3.2 percent and was funded by The Beef Checkoff Program.

The Beef Checkoff Program was established as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. The checkoff assesses $1 per head on the sale of live domestic and imported cattle, in addition to a comparable assessment on imported beef and beef products. States retain up to 50 cents on the dollar and forward the other 50 cents per head to the Cattlemen's Beef Promotion and Research Board, which administers the national checkoff program, subject to USDA approval.

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