Inevitability of reproduction – TV cooking show edition

In 2004, my laboratory reported (and by reported I mean published in a peer-reviewed journal) that, based on 60 hours of detailed viewing of television cooking shows, an unsafe food handling practice occurred about every four minutes, and that for every safe food handling practice observed, we observed 13 unsafe practices. The most common errors were inadequate hand washing and cross-contamination between raw and ready-to-eat foods.celebrity_chefs4

The abstract is below.

Once the paper was published, it made headlines around the globe.

And then it started getting replicated. Texas, Europe, a few other places, and now Massachusetts.

Compliance With Recommended Food Safety Practices in Television Cooking Shows

Nancy Cohen, Rita Olsen

Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 2016 Aug 28. pii: S1499-4046(16)30715-1. doi: 10.1016/j.jneb.2016.08.002. [Epub ahead of print]

Objective

Examine compliance with recommended food safety practices in television cooking shows.

Methods

Using a tool based on the Massachusetts Food Establishment Inspection Report, raters examined 39 episodes from 10 television cooking shows.

Results

Chefs demonstrated conformance with good retail practices for proper use and storage of utensils in 78% of episodes; preventing contamination (62%), and fingernail care (82%). However, 50% to 88% of episodes were found to be out of compliance with other personal hygiene practices, proper use of gloves and barriers (85% to 100%), and maintaining proper time and temperature controls (93%). Over 90% failed to conform to recommendations regarding preventing contamination through wiping cloths and washing produce. In only 13% of episodes were food safety practices mentioned.

Conclusions and Implications

There appears to be little attention to food safety during most cooking shows. Celebrity and competing chefs have the opportunity to model and teach good food safety practices for millions of viewers.

 Mathiasen, L.A., Chapman, B.J., Lacroix, B.J. and Powell, D.A. 2004. Spot the mistake: Television cooking shows as a source of food safety information, Food Protection Trends 24(5): 328-334.

Consumers receive information on food preparation from a variety of sources. Numerous studies conducted over the past six years demonstrate that television is one of the primary sources for North Americans. This research reports on an examination and categorization of messages that television food and cooking programs provide to viewers about preparing food safely. During June 2002 and 2003, television food and cooking programs were recorded and reviewed, using a defined list of food safety practices based on criteria established by Food Safety Network researchers. Most surveyed programs were shown on Food Network Canada, a specialty cable channel. On average, 30 percent of the programs viewed were produced in Canada, with the remainder produced in the United States or United Kingdom. Sixty hours of content analysis revealed that the programs contained a total of 916 poor food-handling incidents. When negative food handling behaviors were compared to positive food handling behaviors, it was found that for each positive food handling behavior observed, 13 negative behaviors were observed. Common food safety errors included a lack of hand washing, cross-contamination and time-temperature violations. While television food and cooking programs are an entertainment source, there is an opportunity to improve their content so as to promote safe food handling.

Former Tasting and Complaining host forced to resign as Thai PM

Thailand’s prime minister was forced out of office Tuesday along with his Cabinet after a court ruled that he had broken a conflict-of-interest law by hosting TV cooking shows.

There sure is a lot of crap on TV cooking shows. We covered it in our 2004 paper here.

Others have apparently borrowed our idea. Imitation is a form of flattery, I guess. Or it’s just posing.

Samak Sundaravej’s 73, a self-proclaimed foodie, hosted a popular television cooking show — "Tasting and Complaining" — for seven years before becoming prime minister. But he also made several appearances after taking office, breaking a constitutional prohibition on private employment while in office.

Can TV cooks become food safety celebrities? or Have you spotted Doug Powell ranting?

"If you read Doug Powell’s FSnet e-mail news, you have probably spotted some of his rants against unsafe techniques demonstrated on television cooking shows."

So says Gary Acuff, president of the International Association for Food Protection in his June 2008 column about the poor food safety practices of celebrity chefs.

My rants are based on research, reviewed and published in Food Protection Trends, a monthly journal of … the International Association for Food Protection.

In 2004, my laboratory reported that, based on 60 hours of detailed viewing of television cooking shows, an unsafe food handling practice occurred about every four minutes, and that for every safe food handling practice observed, we observed 13 unsafe practices. The most common errors were inadequate hand washing and cross-contamination between raw and ready-to-eat foods. The abstract is below and available at http://www.foodsafety.ksu.edu/en/article-details.php?a=3&c=14&sc=102&id=842.

To answer Gary’s question, is there something that can be done? After completing the initial research in 2002, I began writing about the topic, with snappy headlines like, Can TV cooks become food safety celebrities? One of my students at the time, Christian Battista, put together four, 3-minute greatest hits videos, depicting various practices we observed like cross-contamination and lack of handwashing. The videos were a hit.

Once the paper was published, it made headlines around the globe. Some folks at the Food Network in Canada gave me a call, and said they wanted to work with me and my lab, to enhance food safety on their shows.

I said sure.

I also kept showing the videos at my various public appearances.

And then the Food Network called again.

This time the folks at the other end were on a speakerphone — and there was a lot of them. Lawyers, I suspect.

The Food Network people said if I ever showed the videos again they would sue my ass.

But YouTube didn’t exist back then. And I’m in the U.S. now. Hmmm ….

Mathiasen, L.A., Chapman, B.J., Lacroix, B.J. and Powell, D.A. 2004. Spot the mistake: Television cooking shows as a source of food safety information, Food Protection Trends 24(5): 328-334.

Consumers receive information on food preparation from a variety of sources. Numerous studies conducted over the past six years demonstrate that television is one of the primary sources for North Americans. This research reports on an examination and categorization of messages that television food and cooking programs provide to viewers about preparing food safely. During June 2002 and 2003, television food and cooking programs were recorded and reviewed, using a defined list of food safety practices based on criteria established by Food Safety Network researchers. Most surveyed programs were shown on Food Network Canada, a specialty cable channel. On average, 30 percent of the programs viewed were produced in Canada, with the remainder produced in the United States or United Kingdom. Sixty hours of content analysis revealed that the programs contained a total of 916 poor food-handling incidents. When negative food handling behaviors were compared to positive food handling behaviors, it was found that for each positive food handling behavior observed, 13 negative behaviors were observed. Common food safety errors included a lack of hand washing, cross-contamination and time-temperature violations. While television food and cooking programs are an entertainment source, there is an opportunity to improve their content so as to promote safe food handling.

Celebrity chefs rack up health code problems at restaurants

Health Inspections.com reports that on a recent health inspection, Chef Emeril Lagasse’s Miami restaurant was hit with 13 critical violations that could make customers sick.

The restaurant was cited for violations such as foods at dangerous temperatures, hygiene violations, and foods not stored properly.

The television program Inside Edition found that restaurants connected with many famous TV chefs have significant health violations.

Inside Edition even video taped mice running freely at BLT Fish in Manhattan, operated by Laurent Tourondel who has appeared on the Iron Chef television program.

I’m not surprised. A 2004 paper we published based on 60 hours of detailed viewing of television cooking shows found that an unsafe food handling practice occurred about every four minutes, and that for every safe food handling practice observed, we observed 13 unsafe practices. The most common errors were inadequate hand washing and cross-contamination between raw and ready-to-eat foods.

Among the violators:

Anthony Bourdain: The restaurant Les Halles in Coral Gables, Florida was shut down by inspectors 3 times since 2006 for dangerous violations. In the last inspection, the inspector noted 30 fresh rodent droppings on a baking rack.   Bourdain is the ‘chef-at-large’ for the restaurant.

Mario Batali: His "Spotted Pig" restaurant in New York was found to have mice and insects. On two prior inspections, there were a high number of critical violations that required inspectors to come back for follow-ups.

Wolfgang Puck: At his Spago Café in Vegas, nasty employee lockers were found to have roaches. There were also violations for a dirty food slicer, foods at the wrong temperature, and employees not washing properly because of a lack of soap.

Celebrity Chef Todd English has the worst record of the TV cooks. His three Boston restaurants have consistently failed inspections. One of them, known as Kingfish Hall, has failed five inspections since January of 2007.

Paula Dean’s restaurant "Lady and Son" in Georgia had consistently high scores on health inspections.

The Inside Edition story on celebrity chefs who don’t quite make the grade is available at:

http://healthinspections.com/video.cfm?bWVkaWFJRD0zOA==