WASHINGTON, May 10, 2013 – The Elvis of E. Coli, the Sinatra of Salmonella, member of the FDA Food Advisory Committee – Dr. Carl Winter goes by many names. He’s also the director of the FoodSafe Program and the extension food toxicologist in the Department of Food Science and Technology at the University of California at Davis, which gives him just enough credibility to pull off his nighttime gig: singer of food safety parody tunes. Winter tackles complex issues like microbial contamination through songs that ape on popular music. (So Queen’s “We Are the Champions” becomes “We Are the Microbes.”)

On Thursday, Dr. Winter brought his act to Washington when he performed at the announcement of this year’s Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) Borlaug Communication Award. Dr. Winter won the award last year.  The prize is presented annually for “outstanding achievement by a scientist, engineer, technologist, or other professional working in the agricultural, environmental, or food sectors for contributing to the advancement of science in the public policy arena,” according to CAST’s website.

Dr. Winter’s work, said CAST Executive Vice President Linda Chimenti, reflects the core of CAST’s mission: to “bring back together different disciples of agricultural science.”

Winter says his songs and live performances – he’s played in front of at least 200 audiences– are targeted toward the average consumer. “We’re not very good at making things concise and getting them out there,” he says of the food industry. He notes that one in six Americans are affected by food borne illnesses every year, but because there’s little public outrage around the issue, the risk is generally not taken very seriously by the public at large.

“You’d Better Wash Your Hands,” a parody of the Beatles’ “I Wanna Hold Your Hand,” tackles the sticky issue of…washing one’s hands (20 seconds for every go!). His second piece, “Still Seems Like Food to Me,” patterned off of a popular Billy Joel tune, challenges GMO detractors. His recordings from his Thursday performance of both can be heard at the previous links.

More of Dr. Winter’s music can be found on his website.


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