Last month, food safety expert Cindy Rice-Andrea presented the results of her Parent Food Safety Knowledge and Practice survey at the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety Conference in Atlanta.

Rice-Andrea, president of Dining in the Light, Inc., and author of a series of children’s books on food safety,

surveyed elementary and pre-school parents on their food safety practices and knowledge. The majority of parents (95 percent) reported that they almost always washed their hands before touching food when cooking. Less than half reported using a food thermometer for meats and chicken to ensure it is safe to eat.

cindy-rice-andrea-featured.jpgIn a multiple-choice question where parents were asked to identify the riskiest food, only 20 percent correctly identified cooked rice while 45 percent incorrectly identified tomato juice.  In another question regarding risky foods, the majority of parents (68 percent) identified mayonnaise as riskier than cooked chicken (24 percent).

Earlier this year, Food Safety News interviewed Rice-Andrea about “Green Apple Tales”, a new children’s series which aims to deliver food safety information though its lovable characters, colorful illustrations, and easy to understand principles.

In Atlanta, Rice-Andrea conducted an education seminar based on her books and conducted pre- and post-testing on conference attendees, which showed that parents were able to dramatically improve their food safety knowledge, with correct responses on the survey jumping from between 20-70 percent to between 80-100 percent, after the seminar.

In the survey Rice-Andrea reported that 81 percent of parents are concerned about the safety of foods that they eat and 85 percent are concerned about outbreaks and recalls reported in the news.

“The results of my study show an overwhelming need for education on food safety in American homes today,” said Rice-Andrea, who is an epidemiologist and is certified in food safety. 

“As families are busier and no longer spending a great deal of time together in their kitchens we are finding that some of the basic concepts of food safety have been lost. The good news is that these important lifetime skills are easily learned by parents and children alike.”

More recently, Cindy Rice-Andrea has launched a new website for Green Apple Tales.

The website offers wallpaper and coloring book pages that families can download and use. Based on USDA and FDA guidelines, a different principle is depicted in each story to help keep families safe, from hand washing to food allergies, to keeping foods safe at a holiday party.

The website teaches children the basics of food safety and hygiene, and habits that prevent the spread of bacterial and viral diseases.

“We are pleased to offer parents another resource for teaching their children how to stay safe from foodborne illness,” said Rice-Andrea.  The website is easy to use and introduces children to the characters from ‘Green Apple Tales.’  I would encourage everyone with young children to visit the site and make use of our information.”

Rice Andrea serves

on the Massachusetts Dept. of Education Lifeskills Advisory Council and

the Partnership for Food Safety Education. 

Pictured:  Cindy Rice-Andrea at a food safety workshop.  Credit: Green Apple Tales Website.