FoodSafe ProgramThe Sacramento Bee reports that food safety is serious business, as the recent E. coli outbreak has shown. But a food toxicologist from the University of California-Davis is using a light blend of music and parody to get important food-safety messages across to the public.

As director of the university’s FoodSafe Program, Carl K. Winter has spent his career studying and teaching the ways foods can make people sick or kill them. Over the last 10 years, the amateur musician also has been writing humorous lyrics to popular songs to convey critical messages such as the importance of keeping cold foods cold and cooking meats to high temperatures.

"It’s just an educational tool that works," said Winter, who next month will take his program to Albuquerque, N.M., for a gathering of biology teachers, and then to the province of Alberta for a science festival. The Beatles, the Monkees, the Drifters and the Village People are among artists subjected to Winter’s musical revisions. His parodies are peppered with clever lyrics about bacteria, gastroenteritis, hepatitis and mad-cow disease.