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Enjoying Outdoor Cooking, Without the Unwanted Visitors


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Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.

I'm Doug Johnson. On our program this week, we listen to new music by Death Cab for Cutie …

And answer a question about a famous actor …

But first, some expert advice about cooking outdoors.

Food Safety for Outdoor Cooks

This Sunday, many American fathers will get gifts from their families in honor of Father's Day. Some men may be hoping for a shiny new grill to bring smoky, fiery happiness to cooking outdoors. More than half of all Americans say they cook outdoors throughout the year. But the warmer months bring more people outside. So this is a good time for food safety experts to fire up their efforts to educate the public. Faith Lapidus has our story.

Disease-control officials estimate that about one in six Americans get sick from food each year. One hundred thirty thousand have to go to a hospital for food poisoning. And three thousand die. Health officials say these numbers usually increase during this time of year as more Americans cook and eat outdoors.

Andrea Darlas got infected with salmonella bacteria after eating hummus at a food festival.

ANDREA DARLAS: "I was dehydrated. I had a high fever, chills."

She was lucky. A study found that salmonella was the leading cause of death from food-borne diseases in the United States between two thousand and two thousand eight.

HOTLINE WORKER: "Good morning, Meat and Poultry Hotline, may I help you?"

The United States Department of Agriculture started its Meat and Poultry Hotline in nineteen eighty-five. The hotline receives about seventy thousand telephone calls a year from people with food safety questions.

CALLER: "I’m going to be going to a cookout this coming weekend and I am supposed to be bringing the raw hamburgers. So I am a little nervous about traveling with hamburgers. So I just wanted to get some advice on how I could do it safely."

The calls are answered by food safety specialists like Tina Hanes.

TINA HANES: "This time of year we are getting grilling-type questions or questions from people who are asking about picnics and traveling with food."

CALLER: "I was just wondering…can you re-use marinade that you have used on raw chicken on cooked meat?"

HOTLINE WORKER: "Well, you can reuse it as long as you do one important thing first. That is to cook it off. You have to boil it first."

The Meat and Poultry Hotline has expanded its programs to include Spanish language services. Also, people can ask questions through e-mail and live chats and get information on social media sites.

Kathy Bernard is project coordinator for the hotline.

KATHY BERNARD: "We teach consumers everyday, one to one, about how to handle food safely and to prevent food-borne illness. In addition, we also take calls that are related to complaints about food products that has led to foods being recalled, and we think that has probably saved lives."

Dr. Robynne Chutkan at Georgetown Hospital in Washington says people can reduce their risk by taking some simple steps.

ROBYNNE CHUTKAN: "One of the most important things is to make sure your meat is adequately cooked. I do not recommend that anybody be having a rare hamburger when they are cooking out in the summer. If you’re cooking eggs -- we have seen a lot of salmonella in the United States -- you want to make sure the yolks are firm."

And she says drinking or eating things that contain uncooked eggs is "definitely not a good idea."

You can watch a video report about the Meat and Poultry Hotline at voaspecialenglish.com.

Tom Hanks

Our question this week comes from China. Feng Tianqiang would like to know more about movie star Tom Hanks.

Tom Hanks, at fifty-four, has one of the most successful and extensive careers in Hollywood. He has acted in television shows and movies, and done voice work for animated films. He is also a movie director, producer and writer. He currently is part of the leadership of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. For some time he was the Academy’s Vice President. He won the Academy Award for best actor in back to back years. Spencer Tracy is the only other actor to have done that.

Tom Hanks was born in California in nineteen fifty-six. His father and mother ended their marriage when he was five. Tom and his two older siblings lived with their father. The youngest child stayed with his mother.

Tom’s family moved a lot and his parents re-married. He once told a reporter that he had had three mothers, four fathers, five schools and ten houses while growing up. The movie star said he thinks the many changes helped him develop a sense of independence.

Tom Hanks started acting in high school. He took drama classes in college but left before completing his studies. He has said he could not get parts in college plays so he left to follow his professional dream. He moved to New York City.

His first major parts were on television. He won a lead role in the situation comedy “Bosom Buddies” in nineteen-seventy-nine. But he became a star with the movie “Splash” in nineteen eighty-four. More success came four years later with his starring part in the hit movie “Big.” He played a thirteen year old boy who wakes up one day in grown man’s body.

Tom Hanks mainly worked in comedies in the early years of his career. His starring part in the nineteen ninety-three movie “Philadelphia” changed his image. He played a lawyer who launches a case against his law office after it dismisses him because he has AIDS. The star was honored with his first Best Actor Oscar for his work in “Philadelphia.” His second came the following year for his work in the movie, “Forrest Gump.”

Tom Hanks has a lot of interests that he has brought to film and television. His interest in the experiences of World War Two soldiers led him to his involvement in the series “Band of Brothers” for the cable television station HBO. He was also named an honorary member of the United States Army Rangers as a result. He also produced the thirteen-part series, “From the Earth to the Moon” because of his support for human space travel. The actor is a member of the National Space Society.

Tom Hanks is married to the actor Rita Wilson. They have two children together. He also has two children from an earlier marriage.

Tom Hanks’ production company, Playtone, just announced three new projects. One is a movie he wrote. He is also busy promoting the new movie “Larry Crowne,” which he directed and stars in.

For more about that new movie and others listen Monday to our summer movie guide on the Special English program This is America.

"Codes and Keys"

Death Cab for Cutie is known for making poetic music that deals with desire and problems of the heart. The group recently released its seventh full length album, “Codes and Keys.” One critic described the new songs as lovely, thoughtful, and agreeable. Listeners seem to agree. “Codes and Keys” rose to the top of Billboard magazine’s chart for rock and digital albums. Shirley Griffith has more.

SHIRLEY GIRFFITH: That was Death Cab for Cutie’s lead singer Ben Gibbard singing “Monday Morning.” He also plays guitar and writes the words to the band’s songs.

Many critics have noted that “Codes and Keys” is a much happier album than the band’s two thousand eight release “Narrow Stairs.”

Ben Gibbard says he has made many changes to his life since the last album. He decided to stop drinking alcohol. He says he replaced his unhealthy drinking with a healthy activity -- running. And, he also married his love, the actress Zooey Deschanel. He says all these changes have helped him create more balanced music. Here is a song with some fun advice, “Stay Young, Go Dancing.”

This summer Death Cab for Cutie will be performing their music in Europe and across the United States. We leave you with “You are a Tourist.”

Last week, we reported on the Tony Awards, the top honors for Broadway Theater productions. Last Sunday, the award for best musical went to “The Book of Mormon.” The show received nine Tonys in all.

Now, the “Book of Mormon” cast recording has re-entered Billboard’s top two hundred albums chart. It is number three on the list. And demand for tickets to the show has risen sharply. The price of a single ticket has risen by about thirteen dollars. Theater goers can expect to spend at least one hundred fifty-five dollars to see the musical. The best seats in the house are more than four times that much.

I’m Doug Johnson. Our program was written by Chris Simkins, Dana Demange and Caty Weaver, who was also the producer.

If you have questions about American life, write to us at mosaic@voanews.com. And, join us again next week for music and more on AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.


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