Question: There seems to be a lot of information on food safety issues online. But I’m wondering, is there somewhere or someone I can call for help when I have questions about food safety?
Answer: You can call 1-800-752-2751 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and a food safety expert from the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) at The Ohio State University will likely have the answers to your food safety questions.
Created in 1985 by the CFAES Food Industries Center as a service to support the needs of Ohio-based food processors, the Food Safety Hotline is now a consumer resource for any popular food issue, according to Heather Dean, hotline coordinator.
The hotline is now accessible by consumers nationwide, thanks to a partnership started with The Kroger Co. in 2009. Consumers can also email their food safety questions to email@example.com. Faculty and staff members from the Food Industries Center, CFAES’s Department of Food Science and Technology, and related programs will respond to those emails.
Trained CFAES staff and students answer the hotline, which averages about 100 calls per year, Dean said.
The most common questions the hotline receives deal with food storage and safe temperatures for food. For example, a recent question was, “If a package of meat was accidentally left in the car after a grocery trip, is it safe to eat?”
“We get calls more frequently during the summer when people are canning food, and during the holidays when people have questions about Thanksgiving turkey,” Dean said. “This service is a reliable resource for people who don’t have access to the Internet or for someone who wants to validate information they’ve seen online.
“Sometimes it’s just as simple as someone going through their food pantries and asking questions about expiration dates.”
Calls to the hotline typically average about 5 minutes, and if the food safety experts don’t have the answer, they will take the caller’s contact information, research the correct answer and call back with the requested information.
The service is free and open to all. And calls made during off times are answered by voicemail and will also receive a call back.
Chow Line is a service of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and its outreach and research arms, OSU Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Tracy Turner, 364 W. Lane Ave., Suite B120, Columbus, OH 43201, or firstname.lastname@example.org.