Press Release

The Ad Council’s Food Safe Families Television PSA to be featured on Walmart Checkout TV Network

Ads on checkout monitors in nearly 600 stores to reach more than 50 million customers in time for Thanksgiving

NEW YORK, NY, Nov. 22, 2011 – More than 46 million turkeys will be cooked this Thanksgiving holiday, according to the National Turkey Federation.  In an effort to help families prepare safe food at home this Thanksgiving and throughout the year, the Ad Council’s Food Safe Families’ public service campaign is running on the Walmart Checkout TV Network which covers 588 stores throughout the country. The “Separate” TV spot teaches consumers the importance of separating foods to avoid cross-contamination which can cause food poisoning. The public service advertisement (PSA) is airing on TV screens at checkout from Nov. 14 through Nov. 30, reaching more than 50 million customers.

The Food Safe Families campaign was developed by the Ad Council and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, in partnership with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and it is their first joint national multimedia public service campaign to help families prepare food safely at home. The campaign was launched prior to the July 4th holiday by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Food poisoning, also called foodborne illness, is a serious public health threat in the U.S. CDC estimates that approximately 1 in 6 Americans (48 million people) suffer from foodborne illness each year, resulting in roughly 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. While USDA, HHS and other federal government agencies are dedicated to protecting consumers by setting and enforcing food safety standards, it is also the federal government’s responsibility to give consumers important safety information for handling food safely in the home.

“Prevention is our number one priority and it’s important for us to get the word out about what consumers can do to help reduce the risk of foodborne illness, “said USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elisabeth Hagen. “We want consumers to think about food safety as they are shopping and preparing for their meals this holiday season. The “Separate” message reminds consumers to prevent cross-contamination by keeping raw meat and poultry away from ready-to-eat food.” 

Created pro bono by ad agency JWT New York, the Food Safe Families public service campaign aims to raise awareness about the risks of foodborne illness and educate consumers, especially parents, to take specific actions to reduce their personal risk. Through humorous over-the-top depictions of the four key food handling behaviors, the television PSAs urge parents to keep their families safer from food poisoning and deliver clear steps to reduce their risk.

Audiences are encouraged to achieve the following food handling behaviors:

  • Separate: Separate raw meats from other foods by using different cutting boards.
  • Clean: Clean kitchen surfaces, utensils, and hands with soap and water while preparing food.
  • Cook: Cook foods to the right temperature by using a food thermometer.
  • Chill: Chill raw and prepared foods promptly.

“We are grateful to Walmart for their extraordinary support of our Food Safe Families campaign in their stores during this critical time of year when so many families will be preparing food in their homes,” said Peggy Conlon, president and CEO of the Ad Council. “Our goal is to reach Americans at every touch point where they may be thinking about food preparation and the opportunity to reach consumers in stores where they will purchase their holiday meals is an ideal placement for our messages.”

The campaign includes English and Spanish-language television, radio, print, and Web advertising, as well as an integrated social media program. All campaign elements direct audiences to visit, where they can learn about food safety practices. Consumers can also access “Ask Karen,” an online database with answers to nearly 1,500 questions related to preventing foodborne illnesses. 

“We realize food safety is a shared responsibility and we want to help empower our customers with clear food safety tips they can learn about at the checkout lane and hopefully put into practice in their own kitchen at home,” said Frank Yiannas, vice president of food safety for Walmart.

The Ad Council ( is a private, non-profit organization with a rich history of marshalling volunteer talent from the advertising and media industries to deliver critical messages to the American public. Having produced literally thousands of PSA campaigns addressing the most pressing social issues of the day, the Ad Council has effected, and continues to effect, tremendous positive change by raising awareness, inspiring action and saving lives.

The Ad Council, Ellyn Fisher, 212-984-1964
Walmart Media Relations, 1-800-331-0085
USDA, Donna Karlsons, 301-344-4764
FDA, Siobhan Delancey, 301-796-4668
CDC, Kristen Nordlund, 404-639-3286

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