Spanish-Language Virtual Expert Answers Food Safety Questions on Your Smartphone PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Food & Dining
Written by Catherine Cochran   
Tuesday, 26 June 2012 13:37

Take “Mobile Pregúntele a Karen” with you for on-the-go tips to prevent

foodborne illness this summer

WASHINGTON, June 26, 2012—A new Spanish-language food safety app is available to consumers around the clock on their mobile devices, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today. “Mobile Pregúntele a Karen” is the Spanish-language version of Mobile Ask Karen, the virtual expert who answers smartphone users’ questions about properly handling, storing and preparing food to prevent illness. The English version of Mobile Ask Karen was launched in May 2011.


“Expanding our food safety information to multiple languages means we are reaching a wider audience and preventing more foodborne illness,” said USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elisabeth Hagen. “As consumers become familiar with these user-friendly mobile applications, they will develop good food safety habits and have instant access to reliable food safety information.”


The Pregúntele a Karen website has been available from desktop browsers since September 2010. However, FSIS recognized that consumers often need answers to questions like, “To what temperature should I cook steak?” or, “How can I keep food safe outdoors?” when they are not able to access a computer. The new mobile format now allows people to take the food safety information “Karen” provides in Spanish with them to the barbecue grill, farmers market, grocery store and kitchen.


Both Mobile Pregúntele a Karen, which is optimized for iOS and Android devices, and the desktop-based Pregúntele a Karen are available 24 hours a day at or, with more than 1,200 food safety answers searchable by topic and by product. Consumers can also email, chat with a live representative, or call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline directly from the app. To use these features on the app, simply choose “Contact Us” from the menu. The live chat option and the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline, 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854), are available in Spanish and English from l0 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET Monday through Friday.


Mobile Pregúntele a Karen is part of a multi-faceted USDA initiative to prevent foodborne illness. As part of this initiative, USDA recently joined the Ad Council, the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to launch Food Safe Families, a consumer food safety education campaign. Food Safe Families is the first joint public service campaign to empower families to further reduce their risk of foodborne illness at home by checking their key food safety steps: clean, separate, cook, and chill. For more information, go to


Today's action is in addition to other significant public health measures FSIS has put in place during President Barack Obama's Administration to date to safeguard the food supply, prevent foodborne illness, and improve consumers' knowledge about the food they eat. These initiatives support the three core principles developed by the President's Food Safety Working Group: prioritizing prevention; strengthening surveillance and enforcement; and improving response and recovery. Some of these actions include:

  • Test-and-hold policy that will significantly reduce consumer exposure to unsafe meat products, should the policy become final, because products cannot be released into commerce until Agency test results for dangerous contaminants are known.
  • Labeling requirements that provide better information to consumers about their food by requiring nutrition information for single-ingredient raw meat and poultry products and ground or chopped products.
  • Public Health Information System, a modernized, comprehensive database with information on public health trends and food safety violations at the nearly 6,100 plants FSIS regulates.
  • Performance standards for poultry establishments for continued reductions in the occurrence of pathogens. After two years of enforcing the new standards, FSIS estimates that approximately 5,000 illnesses will be prevented each year under the new Campylobacter standards, and approximately 20,000 illnesses will be prevented under the revised Salmonella standards each year.


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