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‘Be Food Safe’ Helps Prevent Foodborne Illnesses

Clean, separate, cook and chill: A new twist on an old message will be rolling out to commissary customers as part of Be Food Safe, a new government-sponsored program to help prevent foodborne illnesses in the home.

Be Food Safe brings the Defense Commissary Agency and 27 commercial retail grocery chains together in participating with the Partnership for Food Safety Education and its government liaisons – the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The goal is to help consumers become more aware of proper food-handling measures in the home, said Rick Page, DeCA’s acting director.

“If you take a moment to practice Be Food Safe’s four simple guidelines and read the instructions on the product label, you can dramatically reduce your chances of getting a foodborne illness,” Page said. “When our customers visit any of our stores or the DeCA Web site,, they will see information to help them keep their food safe.”

To help introduce this yearlong campaign to its customers, DeCA will begin to unveil a series of posters, flyers, circular ads and informational brochures that echo the four core food safety practices of “clean, separate, cook and chill”:

  • Clean – Frequent cleaning can reduce spread of bacteria on hands, cutting boards, knives and kitchen countertops. Always wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling food.
  • Separate – To avoid cross-contamination by bacteria, keep raw meat, poultry and seafood and their juices away from ready-to-eat foods.
  • Cook – Improper heating and preparation can allow bacteria to survive. Use a thermometer to ensure food is safely prepared according to the product’s cooking instructions.
  • Chill – By chilling food properly, you can reduce the risk of foodborne illness. Bacteria spread fastest at temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

The lessons of Be Food Safe are not new, said Col. Perry Chumley, DeCA’s director public health, safety and security. However, what is new is the public’s growing concern about food safety.

“A growing number of people view food-related illness as a serious threat to their health,” he said. “Be Food Safe reinforces information we have promoted all along such as reading the warning labels that show you how to safely cook your meat products.”

Chumley also said that throughout the year customers will periodically see commissaries demonstrating proper food-handling steps. Customers can learn more about the Be Food Safe by visiting http:/