Safe Food 2010—Maricopa County, Arizona

Research Year: 

According to the Centers for Disease Control, only 10 percent of all cases of food poisoning are reported. Proper food handling and storage helps prevent food poisoning from Campylobacter, Salmonella, Cryptosporidium, Yersinia, E. coli 0157 and other pathogens. Safe Food 2010 is a multi-year, comprehensive food safety education project coordinated through Arizona Cooperative Extension. The program is a partnership with state and county health departments, local and state organizations, and groups interested in improving the safety of food for Arizona families and consumers. Safe Food 2010 seeks to reduce the number and severity of foodborne illnesses by providing current, accurate information on nutrition and food safety through the media and through classes. Reported cases of foodborne illness in Arizona declined from 5,200 in 1995 to 1,073 cases in 2009. Arizona Cooperative Extension in Maricopa County is one of 25 members of the Arizona Food Safety Task Force that meets periodically to identify critical issues for action statewide.

Description of Action: 

Safe Food 2010 encompasses a wide range of programs and resources, including workshops on food preservation and on food safety for occasional quantity cooks; “Germ City” sessions on correct hand washing; a food safety course for high-risk groups; the 8th Safe Food, two-day conference in November 2010 on Food Safety from Farm to Table that attracted 86 food professionals; and continuing statewide food safety listserv with state health department for 132 food professionals. The Master Consumer Advisors program continues the educational outreach of Extension in food safety and consumer issues to clientele who call or email. Many of these programs are offered in other counties in Arizona, in addition to Maricopa County. The Safe Food 2010 website features HACCP classes—Hazard Analysis of Critical Control Points—and information on other downloadable or satellite classes and upcoming events. Faculty consulted with 14 food companies and food professionals by phone, while volunteers and part-time staff answered calls from five other Arizona counties and five states—Illinois, California, Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico.


In 2010, the 85 participants in the food preservation class completed a pre-test with an average of 51.4 percent correct answers and a post-test average of 78.4 percent correct, with a 34 percent increase in knowledge about food safety. Nearly 1,600 people downloaded two or more of the five HACCP lessons from the Safe Food 2010 website in 2010. Safe Food 2010 conference participants rated the conference at 4.6 (5 being excellent). Of the 86 participants, 20 reported they would be training other professionals with the information, 32 with their staff, 6 will be teaching students and 18 will teach consumers.

At one middle school, 208 teachers taught proper hand-washing to 4,000 students in their classrooms as a result of Safe Food 2010 training, hand-washing curricula and student incentives. The Germ City unit was used at schools as part of the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP-Ed) in Maricopa, Pinal, Pima and Santa Cruz Counties, with more than 740 downloads of online Germ City teaching resources from the website. Ninety percent of the SNAP-Ed teachers at Isaac Middle School said, “My students washed their hands more often,” as a result of the program.

During 2010, 32 Master Consumer volunteers gave 916 hours service valued at $19,098 according to the 2009 independent sector data rate of $20.85/hour.

Customer Response Cards were sent to people with publications in 2010. The returned responses rated Cooperative Extension's information and help as 9.6 with 10 being excellent and 1 being poor. Comments included: "We love knowing we have somewhere to go for help." and "Information was just what I needed to know." The Safe Food 2010 website had 128,000 visitors with 4.2 million hits in 2010. Twenty four percent (17,770 sessions) came from Google searches. There were more than 21,800 visitors from 11 foreign countries. More than 10,725 pdf files were downloaded from the Maricopa County Family and Consumer Sciences website.

Conact Name: 
Sharon Hoelscher-Day
Contact E-mail: