USDA uses Twitter to issue urgent food safety alerts

Wednesday - 3/7/2012, 12:35pm EST

Dr. Elizabeth Hagen, undersecretary for food safety, USDA

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The Agriculture Department is looking for new ways to alert the public of urgent food safety issues. The latest vehicle: Twitter. A number of different feeds are up and running as of this month.

"We've been communicating with consumers through our main Twitter feed for quite some time," said Dr. Elizabeth Hagen, USDA's undersecretary for food safety.

USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service regulates domestic and imported meat, poultry and processed egg products. It already passes on urgent food safety information to the more than 250,000 people who follow its main Twitter feed — @USDAFoodSafety. The new Twitter feeds will offer state-specific information.

"This new effort really aims to target those messages when we have a recall that, for instance, affects maybe five or six states," Hagen said. "We want to make sure that in addition to our national information going out, that people in those particular localities can get the information that they need and get it very quickly."

Hagen joined The Federal Drive with Tom Temin Wednesday to discuss how her agency is using social media to get time-sensitive information out to consumers.