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USDA hotline answers millions of calls

The USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline has answered over 2 million calls as part of USDA’s consumer food safety education efforts.

Often the first question callers ask is, “Are you a real person?” The Hotline is one of the rare services where a live person answers callers individually specific questions one-on-one.

In the more than 22 years of operation, callers have asked the Hotline increasingly more sophisticated questions. Now they frequently know the names of bacteria many people had never heard of 10 or 20 years ago.

From novice cooks wondering how long to safely roast a chicken to more experienced food handlers asking about additives, residues, and foodborne bacteria, Hotline food safety specialists have heard it all — 2 million times over.

The USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline can personally answer your food safety questions on weekdays year-round. The Hotline receives more than 80,000 calls yearly. This toll-free telephone service, which began July 1, 1985, helps prevent foodborne illness by answering questions about the safe storage, handling, and preparation of meat, poultry, and egg products.

The Hotline is staffed by food safety specialists with backgrounds in home economics, nutrition, and food technology. The majority of calls come from consumers regarding how to properly handle their food, including food safety during power outages: food manufacturer recalls; foodborne illnesses; and the inspection of meat, poultry, and egg products.

So, this holiday season, post this number on your refrigerator and call when you have a question about food safety: (888) 674-6854.

Submit garden success

The CSU Extension Office in Archuleta County is compiling information concerning vegetable and herb gardening to be published in a new document, Successful Gardening in Pagosa Country, which will be available in the spring of 2011. We encourage locals to submit entries for this publication to help other gardeners. Forms can be picked up at the Extension Office or online at

Master Gardener

The CSU Extension Office in Archuleta County is accepting applications for the 2011 Colorado Master Gardener (CMG) program until Dec. 10.

Topics include: tree care, vegetables, soils, native plants, water wise gardening, pruning and much more. The training utilizes on-site and distant education experts to teach a series of ten classes.

Classes start Jan. 27 will continue each Thursday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. until March 31. Classes will be held at the fairgrounds except for three classes to be held in Durango.

The cost is $190 if you intend to volunteer, $550 for a certificate without volunteer time. CMG volunteers are expected to complete 50 hours of volunteer time in the first year and 24 hours in subsequent years. 

If gaining knowledge and helping others through horticulture is of interest to you, the Colorado Master Gardener program is an ideal volunteer choice. Contact the office at 264-5931 for more information.


Nov. 11 — Office closed in observance Veteran’s Day.

Nov. 11 — 11:30 a.m., Mountain View Homemakers.

Nov. 11 — 5:30 p.m., Western Heritage Event Center, Inc. meeting.

Nov. 12 — 2 p.m., Wolf Creek Wonders Club.

Nov. 12 — 3 p.m., 4-H Parliamentary Procedure Workshop.

Nov. 15 — 6:30 p.m., Back Country Horsemen meeting.

Nov. 16 — 6 p.m., 4-H Council meeting.

Nov. 17 — 10 a.m., Mountain High Gardeners meeting.