Beef checkoff research shows ‘safety matters’
Ah, the allure of the sizzle, the smell of a flaming grill wafting in through the windows, the anticipation of that juicy steak or scrumptious burger. Taste buds tango at the thought, but, is it both safe and savory? September marks the 13th Annual National Food Safety Education Month and the beef checkoff is supporting the efforts of agencies such as the Food & Drug Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Centers for Disease Control in promoting beef safety through educational activities. Why? Of 26 factors consumers were asked to rank in a recent survey, “being extremely safe to eat” ranked number two in importance; taste topped the charts.
“While the media tends to focus on the adverse and the dramatic, America’s beef producers continue to communicate the message that we are dedicated to producing a product that is of highest integrity, quality and safety,” says Mark Riechers, Cattlemen’s Beef Board member and farmer/feeder from Darlington, WI, and vice chair of the Joint Beef Safety Committee. “We have a well-regulated system in place to protect the American food supply. Taking it one step further in the supply chain, the checkoff is now working to educate consumers about the safety of the U.S. beef supply, ultimately helping our consumers feel more confident in choosing and safely preparing beef for their families.”
Beef producers alone have invested more than $27 million in beef safety research since 1993. The checkoff effort continued this summer with two additional checkoff-funded research projects conducted to better understand consumer attitudes about safety and the factors influencing thermometer use, thus completing the beef safety education circle from farm to fork.
Since safety alone does not motivate thermometer use, the first of the two studies looked deeper into consumer attitudes and everyday practices when cooking ground beef patties at home and tested consumer reactions to the Safe and Savory at 160° message being used as part of consumer beef safety communications.
“What man doesn’t want to be the ‘king of the grill’? However, the checkoff wants to make sure that king comes equipped with a thermometer and 160 degrees cooking instructions,” continues Riechers. “We have found after looking deeper that through ongoing, frequent exposure to a message promoting the use of thermometers to ensure both a safe and delicious eating experience, consumer behavior could be changed. Again, at every step of the production chain, producers are investing in checkoff programs that ensure our product IS fit for a king.”
Panelists at a safety summit earlier this year concluded that when food safety issues are local, consumer awareness is heightened to the level they may modify their purchase decisions. In an effort to curb any potential consumer concerns, the beef checkoff educates consumers and producers on the latest safety information about the industry’s commitment to safety best practices, important E. coli research, and safe cooking education.
For more information about checkoff-funded programs, visit http://www.MyBeefCheckoff.com.