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Professor creates food safety parodies

February 23, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
When it comes to remembering important information, music is always a useful tool. No matter what the subject, a catchy tune can make all the difference when it comes to retention. One professor proves that point, creating parodies about food-borne illness. Dr. Carl Winter, a professor at UC Davis, takes a novel approach to food safety.

"I think I've been in 39 different states and Canada giving presentations," said Dr. Winter. "I've distributed more than 20,000 of my CD's."

Winter created three dozen different parodies about food safety, along with animated videos and DVD's. He also performs at conferences, schools, even alphabet agencies like, FDA and USDA.

"'You Better Wash Your Hands' is derived from the Beatles, 'I Want To Hold Your Hand,'" said Winter. "'I have 'Don't Get Sicky With It' which is based on Will Smith's 'Gettin' Jiggy With It.'"

"He's getting out there in different languages and different countries," said Dr. David Theno.

"And the biggest challenge is either with English as a second language, young children, or people that are stuck in their ways," said Bill Flynn, Ever Clean.

Flynn says his company's job is to ensure businesses are performing safe practices. They recently had Winter come croon at a safety convention.

"He is doing such a good job in spreading the news about food safety in non-traditional venues," said Dr. Theno.

Winter realized what advertisers have known for years that a catchy song and slogan makes it easier for us to remember -- far more than hard copy that might be slow or boring.

"Sometimes when it comes from a clinical guy, a food safety person you can lose some of the message," said Flynn. "Have a visual aid like Dr. Carl is huge."

There are 76 million cases of food illness yearly, about one in four. Yet there are so many things all of us can do to reduce the risk of illness -- from hand sanitation to cooking techniques and proper storage.