Have you ASKed KAREN?

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Want to know how long you can safely keep meat in the refrigerator? Or how long to boil an egg? How about whether it’s better to use wooden or plastic cutting boards?

A more recent question on many minds, How do you keep food safe during a power failure?

This may seem like a long list of questions that are random or unimportant if you did not know about the recent storm that left several people without power. However, these are questions that can and have been answered by the “Ask Karen” application on the division of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) website.

Ask KarenThe “Ask Karen” application is a web-based and mobile application that is used to provide useful information to the public about food safety. That means, they cover everything from proper preparation, to proper storage, to mad cow, and more. The best feature is the option to ask a question, and “Karen’s” automation response system will respond. Using your iPhone or Android, you can join the conversation or “Ask Karen” questions about any food safety related.

Ask Karen provides 24/7 virtual assistance and tips on preventing foodborne illness, safe food handling and storage, and safe preparation of meat, poultry, and egg products. Mobile Ask Karen has all the same features as Ask Karen from your desktop or laptop. You can get answers to your food safety questions while at the grocery store, farmers market, in your kitchen, or while at your barbecue grill. – Google Play Description

In June, the application become a great resource for the native spanish speaking citizens as they rolled out the  “Pregúntele a Karen” So if a spanish speaking person were to ask about the power outage they would  receive an answer in spanish.

The Ask Karen is so highly recognized that Government Computer News labeled this application as one of the 10 best Federal Mobile Apps. Giving the app the ratings of

Platforms: Mobile Web, iOS, Android
Usefulness: 10
Ease of Use: 10
Coolness Factor: 10

Assuming that the scale was from 1 to 10 and 10 being the highest, Ask Karen got an all-around perfect score.

FSIS has served a crucial role in all Food Safety practices. The twitter account, is one of the most highly favored of the USDA accounts, with over 300,000 (three hundred thousand followers. During the blackout/ power outage in the tri-state area, the FSIS make themselves the central hub of information to help other. Articles, like this one, showcase the usefulness of the FSIS and the impact the impact of the FSIS.  You can see in the article that the FSIS provided a detailed list of instructions as to whyat you should do with your your food during the power outages.

Tweets like, No power? Food Safety questions? #AskKaren, show that they are committed to spreading their knowledge, promoting their application, and support the people of this country.

If you haven’t already, visit Ask Karen, available 24/7 at www.AskKaren.gov or m.AskKaren.gov on your smartphone, or visit the Spanish-language version at m.PregunteleaKaren.gov orPregunteleaKaren.gov. Mobile Ask Karen is available for iOS (iPhone and iPad) or Android devices.

The next questions for FSIS are: How can FSIS expand its consumer education outreach efforts? Expand their demographic for existing campaigns and those on the horizon?

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