Safe food-handling procedures are often lacking on TV cooking shows, a new study finds.
Researchers at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, said if TV cooks fail to demonstrate safe practices, it may lead to unhealthy food preparation in viewers’ home kitchens.
For the study, the researchers looked at the use of utensils and gloves, protection from contamination, and time and temperature control in 39 episodes of 10 popular cooking shows. They also noted whether the shows mentioned food safety.
The findings were published in the November-December issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.
“The majority of practices rated were out of compliance or conformance with recommendations in at least 70 percent of episodes, and food safety practices were mentioned in only three episodes,” said study lead author Nancy Cohen, a professor of nutrition at the university.
“For most behaviors observed, the percentage of shows in conformance with recommended practices was much lower than that seen in restaurant employees and consumers in general,” she said in a journal news release.
The study authors suggested several ways to improve TV cooking programs. Among them: requiring food safety training for TV chefs and contestants, designing sets to support safe food handling, including food safety as a judging criterion in competitions, and incorporating food safety in scripts.
“There are many opportunities on cooking shows to educate the public regarding safe food-handling practices, and help reduce the incidence of foodborne illness,” Cohen said in the news release.
“Similarly, nutrition and food-safety educators could work with the media to produce shows that demonstrate positive food-safety behaviors and educate consumers about food-safety practices as they adopt recipes,” she suggested.
The United States has 48 million reported cases of foodborne illness a year, resulting in 3,000 deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.