TV cooking shows are not models of food safety

handwashingMore than half of Americans say they’ve watched cooking shows on television. And more than a fifth use these shows as their primary source of information about food safety.

That’s probably not a great idea.

While the dishes these programs prepare may be tasty, a lot of their food safety practices are, well, unappetizing. A new survey makes this clear.

University of Massachusetts at Amherst researchers recruited state hygiene inspectors and food safety experts to rate 39 episodes of 10 popular cooking shows on how well they followed 19 standard food safety practices.

The result: pretty dirty.

More than 90 percent of the episodes did not follow best practices for:

  • hand washing,
  • handling raw food,
  • using dish cloths properly,
  • washing fruits and vegetables, and
  • cooking food to the proper temperature for the proper amount of time.

washing-dishes-1112077_1920The programs also did a poor job at keeping the cooks’ hair properly pulled back and making sure to keep ready-to-eat foods separate from raw food.

“Only four practices were observed to be in compliance or conformance with recommendations in more than 50 percent of the episodes,“ said Nancy Cohen who led the study. These included keeping fingernails clean and short, preventing contamination of food during food preparation, and cleaning the used utensils.

“Overall, there is little emphasis on modeling good food safety practices during television food shows,” the study’s authors concluded.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reckons that there are 48,000,000 cases of food poisoning each year and that 3,000 Americans die from foodborne illness.

Source: Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior 48: 730, 2016.

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2 Replies to “TV cooking shows are not models of food safety”

  1. Most shows are 30 to 60 mins. Don’t you think everything is pre- washed and prepped for the show. Can you imagine the viewers’ boredom with Ann Burrell washing the meat or peeling shrimp. Common guys! As for hand washing, I do see everyone stressing that after handling chicken especially. These are to give us a few tips, but, Please!, use commonsense in your kitchen! And safe food handling.

    1. We will forward you comments to the authors of the study and report back their response. The food safety experts said they rated practices that could be expected to be seen in a 30 to 60 minute show.

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