FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, August 17, 2009
CONTACT: Margaret Hart, Communications Coordinator, 651-201-6131
Help MDA solve a Food Scene Investigation (FSI) at the Minnesota State Fair. Join Inspector “Trace Back” as he tries to crack the case
ST. PAUL, Minn. – You can play the role of a state food inspector with a visit to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s (MDA) 2009 Minnesota State Fair booth. The exhibit is a Food Scene Investigation (FSI) where you can help solve a food-borne illness outbreak.
The FSI starts out in the Minnesota Grocery and Deli, a mock store set-up and takes you behind the scenes where the deli food was prepared.
The lead investigator, Inspector Trace Back, is trying to figure out which food became contaminated with Salmonella bacteria and is making people sick. Clues along the way assist you as you examine how the food was stored and prepared, the cleanliness of the deli and the sanitary practices of its employees. During each step, you’ll be trying to trace the contamination back to its source.
“The FSI simulates what MDA inspectors do when an outbreak occurs,” says Dr. Heidi Kassenborg, director of the MDA’s Dairy and Food Inspection Division. “We want to figure out as quickly as possible what food is making people sick, how it became contaminated and where it came from, so we can prevent more cases of illness.”
Kassenborg says an estimated 76 million cases of food-borne illness occur each year in the United States and the Food Scene Investigation provides an opportunity to educate children and adults about how these illnesses can be prevented and also how these cases are solved.
“The MDA’s Dairy and Food Inspection team has often provided its expertise in large-scale food-borne illness investigations such as the nationwide Salmonella outbreak involving peanut butter earlier this year,” Kassenborg said. “We’re excited to offer a snapshot of what goes into those investigations at our State Fair exhibit and let the public play a role in cracking the case.”
The MDA booth is located in the Agriculture/Horticulture Building on the State Fairgrounds and is open from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., August 27 – Labor Day, September 7.