USDA Expands Meat and Poultry Hotline Hours to Further Provide Food Safety Information to Consumers

For 32 years, the USDA's Meat and Poultry Hotline has answered consumers' food safety questions

USDA Expands Meat and Poultry Hotline Hours to Further Provide Food Safety Information to Consumers
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April 17, 2017

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has announced that it is increasing the delivery of safe food handling and preparation information by expanding the hours of its Meat and Poultry Hotline and 'Ask Karen' chat services.

The Meat and Poultry Hotline has been educating consumers since 1985. The toll-free telephone service assists in the prevention of foodborne illnesses by answering consumers' questions about the safe storage, handling, and preparation of meat, poultry, and egg products. Effective immediately, the hotline will be open for two additional hours each day, from 10 am to 6 pm (Eastern Time).

"Our hotline provides a valuable service in educating consumers about how to safely prepare food," said FSIS Administrator Al Almanza. "By keeping the hotline open an additional two hours, we are expanding our reach to allow more consumers, including those on the West Coast, to have their food safety questions answered."

The hotline is accompanied by Ask Karen, a 24-hour online service that provides answers to thousands of frequently asked questions and also allows consumers to email or live-chat with a food safety specialist during operating hours.

For 32 years, the Meat and Poultry Hotline has answered questions about food manufacturer recalls, food poisoning, food safety during power outages, and the inspection of meat, poultry, and egg products. From novice cooks roasting their first turkey to experienced food handlers asking about foodborne bacteria, the USDA says that the Meat and Poultry Hotline has answered more than 3 million calls since its inception.

"Our hotline staff are experts in their field and have backgrounds in nutrition, food technology and public health," said Almanza. "Experts are available to talk with people in English and Spanish, so we are able to help address the food safety needs of diverse communities."

Consumers can contact the Meat and Poultry Hotline to speak to a live food expert at (888) 674-6854, or visit Ask Karen to chat or email (in English or Spanish) Monday through Friday from 10 am to 6 pm Eastern Time/7 am to 3 pm Pacific Time.