Last week the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) debuted its brand new, 40-foot-long Food Safety Discovery Zone, a food safety educational center on wheels that will travel across the country to teach kids about proper food handling.

“The Discovery Zone… will take critical food safety messages directly to the public, in the places where they live, work, play, shop and go to school,” said Craig Stoltz, FSIS’ Web service director said on the USDA blog Thursday. “That outreach is an important aspect of this Administration’s and the President’s Food Safety Working Group’s efforts to reduce the burden of foodborne illness nationwide.”

food safety mobile 2.jpgAccording to the agency, “The Discovery Zone’s mission doesn’t stop with education: It’s a deployable mobile asset in times of natural disasters, as it can quickly travel to affected areas to help ensure food supplies are safe.”

“An earlier version of the vehicle, known as the USDA Food Safety Mobile and was in service from 2003 to 2005, traveled to areas struck by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to educate and help consumers sanitize containers of food and kitchen items plus provide hand wipes, food thermometers, and other critical food safety supplies.”

food safety zone.jpg

Pictured: Top: The Food Safety Discover Zone on the National Mall in Washington, DC last week. Bottom: Getting a close look at bacteria. Giovanna Wiggington (foreground) and Tiffany Newman (background) at one of the stations in the food safety mobile. Photos courtesy of the USDA Flickr.

Tentative Discovery Zone Schedule

MAY 2010

May 6-8, 2010 Public Service Recognition Week
Washington, DC May 13, 2010 Fresh Farm Market, By the White House
Washington, DC May 14-15, 2010 National Arboretum – The Washington Youth Garden
Washington, DC May 16, 2010 23rd Annual Taste of Arlington
Arlington, VA May 20, 2010 George Washington Carver Center Farmer’s Market
Beltsville, MD May 22, 2010 Fresh Farm Market, H Street
Washington, DC May 25, 2010 FSIS Food Safety Education Camp
Beltsville, Maryland May 26, 2010 FSIS Unity Day
Beltsville, MD

JUNE 2010

Jun 4-5, 2010 Variety Children’s Barbecue Bash
Memphis, TN Jun 8, 2010 Erin City Hall
Erin, TN Jun 10-13, 2010 CMA Music Festival
Nashville, TN Jun 14 – 20, 2010 Chattanooga Riverbend Festival
Chattanooga, TN Jun 22, 2010 Auburn University
Auburn, AL Jun 23, 2010 Tuskegee University
Tuskegee, AL Jun 24-25, 2010 Partner in Mobile, Alabama
Mobile, AL Jun 26, 2010 Bayou Le Batre, AL

For the rest of the schedule, which loops through the Midwest and then comes back to the Chesapeake region, from May through November 2010 – see the Food Safety and Inspection Service site: