Pierce County budget cuts close food safety program

For nearly 30 years, the WSU Pierce County Extension Food Safety Advisor program trained citizens in food preservation and safety, and answered questions via a Food Safety Hotline. Due to significant Pierce County budget cuts to the Extension, the Food Safety Advisor Program will close effective Dec. 31.

Over the years, trained volunteers participated in many local demonstrations and events, including fairs and festivals. Together with MetroParks Tacoma and Pierce County Parks and Recreation, the WSU Pierce County Extension provided ongoing training to these dedicated volunteers, who in turn trained hundreds of citizens in safe food preservation and food handling.

In addition, the volunteers handled telephone questions from Pierce County and beyond, including the entire mainland United States, five days a week, seven hours a day. During that time, the Food Safety Advisors answered questions varying from the processing time for canned salmon to whether food left overnight on the counter is safe (it’s not). Every question is carefully considered, and often several advisors work together to research an answer. There are currently 20 active volunteers.

Until Dec. 31, you can still call 253-798-7180 or 1-800-992-2456, choice 7, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for answers to your food safety needs. After the first of the year, you can contact one of the following:

— The USDA at http://www.www.usda.gov or 1-202-720-2791

— During November and December, 1-800-BUTTERBALL for poultry questions

— Lewis County Extension Office, 360-740-1212