Some Food Network stars may inadvertently be teaching the wrong lessons during their popular shows, according to a new Texas Tech University study on food safety measures. Last year researchers sat down to analyze food-safety practices used on the Food Networks’ heavy hitters – 30 Minute Meals with Rachael Ray, The Essence of Emeril, Everyday Italian, Paula’s Home Cooking and Semi Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee.
The results weren’t exactly savory: 118 positive food-safety measures and 460 poor food handling incidents. Among the most noticeable bad behaviors were not washing fruits, vegetables and herbs properly, as well as a lack of hand washing in general.
Researchers analyzed 49 shows airing over a two-week period and used 17 different coded categories: six positive and 11 negative. Positive categories included hand washing, cleaning equipment, washing fruits and vegetables, adequate refrigeration, use of a thermometer or other positives.
Negative behaviors include food from unsafe sources, failure to use a thermometer, use of food from the floor, failure to refrigerate perishables, failure to wash fruits or vegetables, inadequately washing equipment, sampling food or licking fingers, cross-contamination of ready-to-eat or raw foods, touching the face and failing to wash hands.
“These are important behaviors because if they’re not followed you can become ill,” said Mindy Brashears, associate professor and director of Texas Tech’s International Center for Food Industry Excellence. “Many food-borne illnesses can be prevented by proper food handling, and that’s why it’s important these popular stars follow good safety practices.”
The Food Network is distributed to more than 85 million households in the United States and is considered the giant in food programming, ranked number one out of 50 cable channels.