According to a study conducted at Kansas State University, celebrity chefs have poor food safety practices. Edgar Chambers IV and Curtis Maughan from KSU, with Sandria Godwin from Tennessee State University, wrote “Food safety behaviors observed in celebrity chefs across a variety of programs” which was published in the Journal of Public Health. The study was sponsored by the USDA, FDA, and CDC.
Researchers looked at 100 cooking shows that were hosted by 24 celebrity chefs and found problematic food preparation behaviors. Chambers said, “twenty-three percent of chefs licked their fingers; that’s terrible. Twenty percent touched their hair or dirty clothing or things and then touched food again.”
The most common food safety hazards observed on these shows included lack of hand washing, not changing cutting boards after using raw meat, and not using a meat thermometer to check doneness. Chambers said that is not demonstrating good behavior for viewers. While the shows’ purposes are to entertain and provide cooking information, they should also model good food safety practices.
About 1 in 6 Americans get sick with a foodborne illness every year. Chambers adds, “all celebrity chefs have to do is mention these things as they go along: ‘Remember to wash your hands,” or “Don’t forget to change out your cutting board.” Some chefs did say these things.
No chef on any show received a perfect score, but the study found that some were more careful in their food preparation practices. Chambers said that celebrity chefs can help make viewers more likely to use safe food practices.
Good food safety practices including washing your hands before preparing food, and after handling raw meats, poultry, seafood, and eggs. Never use the same cutting board or utensils for raw meats and food that will be eaten uncooked. Always use a food thermometer to check that meats and egg dishes are cooked to safe final temperatures. And promptly refrigerate cooked foods to help prevent bacterial growth.