Just in time for summer grilling and picnic season, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is launching Mobile Ask Karen, a Web-based smartphone application, or app, that instantly answers food safety questions.
The app is a mobile version of the existing Ask Karen site, a virtual food safety representative who offers advice about properly handling, storing, and preparing food to prevent illness.
In mobile format, people can take "Karen" with them to the grocery store, barbecue grill, farmers market, and into the kitchen. Anywhere mobile devices can access the Internet, at any time of day, consumers can get immediate answers to questions such as, "Is food safe if left out overnight?" or, "Should I use a wooden cutting board or a plastic one?"
In a continuing effort to engage consumers and encourage new behaviors when buying food or cooking at home, the agency created Mobile Ask Karen to make food safety information more accessible. Just like using Ask Karen from a desktop or laptop computer, consumers can search for nearly 1,500 answers by topic or by product, chat with a live representative, or e-mail or call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline (1-888-MPHotline). The app currently is optimised for the iPhone, iPad, and Android devices.
President Obama's Food Safety Working Group (FSWG) developed three core principles to help guide food safety in the United States: prioritising prevention, strengthening surveillance and enforcement, and improving response and recovery. In its overall mission as a 21st century public health agency focused on ensuring a safe food supply, FSIS developed the Mobile Ask Karen app to provide consumers fast, reliable food safety information.