The USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline is turning 30 years old this month. The Hotline offers advice to consumers about safely preparing meat, poultry, and eggs. Consumer answers about recalls and safe final cooking temperatures are also answered.
Since it begin in 1985, the Hotline has handled more than 3,000,000 calls from the public. It’s especially used during the holidays, when many consumers have questions about turkey preparation. After severe weather, when the power is out, is another high time for calls. The Hotline number is 1-888-674-6854, and it is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET Monday through Friday.
Questions commonly asked include “how long can I keep meat in the refrigerator?”, “how long will cooked food stay safe in the fridge?” and “what is the safe internal temperature for cooking meat and poultry?”
The USDA’s “Ask Karen” smartphone application is a newer version of the hotline. Tina Hanes, Hotline manager and food safety technical information specialist, said, “When the Hotline started, the toll-free phone service was the most up-to-date method of reaching consumers; now we communicate with them across all sorts of media. We will continue to provide food safety answers to customers’ questions wherever the future leads us.”