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    USDA Launches Consumer-Friendly Web Site

    WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) today launched its newly designed, customer-focused Web site to help make finding information about food safety easier and faster.

    WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) today launched its newly designed, customer-focused Web site to help make finding information about food safety easier and faster.

    "It is our goal to be more efficient and responsive to the needs of our customers," said USDA Undersecretary for Food Safety Dr. Elsa Murano. "This new Web site moves us in the right direction by providing continuous, uninterrupted global capabilities around the clock."

    In January Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman announced an aggressive program to enhance the USDA's electronic government capabilities as part of President Bush's management agenda. The initiative began with a new design of the USDA home page as a first step to upgrade the department's Web presence and to be more responsive to its customers. The redesigned FSIS Web site will help improve the USDA customer's access to vital information about food safety.

    The revamped Web site provides the latest information about food safety, with an innovative twist. Consumers can speak with "Karen," the FSIS virtual hotline representative. "Karen" can answer questions about safely storing, preparing, and handling meat, poultry, and egg products. "Karen" can instantly respond to questions originating from anywhere in the world. Consumers still can call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at (888) MPHotline (888-674-6854) with questions.

    "As a public health agency, it is our goal to empower consumers with knowledge as we continue to drive down the incidence of foodborne illness in America," said FSIS acting administrator Dr. Barbara Masters. "This web site will give consumers immediate access to the information that will help them protect themselves and their families."

    With just one click, consumers, scientists, businesses, consumer groups, and USDA employees can find the information they need, such as FSIS recall releases, policies, and regulations.

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