For many Americans, watching celebrity chefs cook up a storm on a cooking show has become a favorite way to unwind at the end of a long day. Whether you’re watching to learn how to prepare the perfect cocktail hour spread, or enjoy watching a cooking competition between amateur chefs, there’s a show for everyone. Unfortunately, one thing viewers cannot expect to see on their favorite cooking show is safe food safety practices.
In a recent study conducted by food experts from Kansas State University and Tennessee State University, that observed 24 different popular celebrity chefs, discovered many unsanitary food preparation behaviors. So what’s the big deal? Well, considering that many viewers at home are looking to these chefs for tips and tricks in the kitchen and advice on preparing their own mouthwatering dishes, one could argue that celebrity chefs should be demonstrating good food safety practices as well so that viewers at home know how to safely prepare their own dishes.
Included in the many unsanitary food practices the study found were instances where chefs licked their fingers and touched their hair, clothing, and other dirty things before touching the food they were preparing. However, the most common unsanitary practices the study found included the following:
- Lack of Hand-Washing
- Not Changing Cutting Boards Between Preparing Raw Meat and Vegetables
- Not Using a Meat Thermometer
When it came to hand washing, the study found that oftentimes the celebrity chefs would only wash their hands at the beginning of the food preparation process, but didn’t wash their hands again after that. Poor food safety practices like these are not modeling good behavior for viewers at home, and oftentimes viewers can even pick up some of these bad habits themselves. Too often we hear instances in the news of people getting sick from poor food preparation techniques, which can be especially harmful to children, pregnant women, and the elderly. Even at home, the 24-hour stomach flu can often be attributed to poor food preparation habits.
That being said, how celebrity chefs prepare their food on live television matters. According to one of the study’s food safety experts, Edgar Chambers IV of Kansas State University, “all celebrity chefs have to do is mention these things as they go along: ‘Remember to wash your hands,’ ‘Don’t forget to change out your cutting board,’ or ‘I washed my hands here.’ They don’t have to show it on television, but they should remind viewers that there are safety issues involved in food preparation.”
In conducting the study, which was funded by the USDA and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Chambers and his fellow food experts hope that viewers and aspiring chefs are able to learn better food safety practices. He noted that many “people are creatures of habit, they may rely on practices that they are familiar with instead of adopting safe recommendations.” Hopefully, if more celebrity chefs incorporate better food safety practices into their shows, those practices will pass on to viewers.