Better food safety — there's a recipe for that

Tuesday, 13 December, 2016

Better food safety — there's a recipe for that

If food safety reminders are included in recipes, compliance improves dramatically.

Only 25% of home cooks use a meat thermometer but this number increases to 85% if the recipe includes a reminder. Likewise, usually only 40–50% of people wash their hands when cooking but if the recipe includes a reminder, 70–80% of people will wash their hands.

These results were observed by Edgar Chambers IV, co-director of the Kansas State University Sensory Analysis Center and his team, including researchers at Tennessee State University and RTI International and have been published in the Journal of Food Protection. The US Department of Agriculture intends to include these food safety instructions in the recipes that it develops henceforth.

The researchers observed 75 people cook two dishes — a Parmesan chicken breast and a turkey patty with mushroom sauce — following recipes that did not have food safety instructions. Another group of 75 participants cooked the same dishes following recipes that did include food safety instructions. The dishes required the participants to handle raw meat, eggs and fresh produce while scientists observed how often the participants washed their hands or used a meat thermometer.

By comparing the two groups, the researchers found that 60% more people used a meat thermometer and 20 to 30% more people washed their hands when the recipes included reminders about the two food safety practices.

“This is such an easy thing to do: just add the information to the recipe and people follow it,” said Edgar Chambers. “It’s a simple way to reduce foodborne illness and we can actually reduce healthcare costs by simply adding information to recipes. It’s a great finding and a great piece of information for the promotion of food safety information.”

The research is well timed as the need for food thermometer use is increasing with LED lights and energy-efficient lights making meat and poultry appear as if they are more ‘cooked’ than they actually are. This lighting-based research has been published in the Journal of Sensory Studies.

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