Celebrity chefs a potential health hazard
2 May 2016
Celebrity chefs could be a menace to public health with their slapdash approach to food hygiene, academics have warned.
Jamie Oliver (pictured) and Curtis Stone were the worst offenders, for inappropriately fingering food, as well as eating while cooking, their study found.
Researchers watched 100 TV cooking shows featuring 24 different celebrity chefs, from Nigella Lawson to Gordon Ramsay.
None of the chefs were shown washing their hands before cooking, and very few after handling uncooked meat, the researchers discovered.
“Safe cutting board use, either changing or washing the cutting surface after cutting uncooked meat, was only demonstrated by around one-third of the chefs,” they said.
Ramsay, the ruthless UK cook, was rated the chef most guilty of judging meat as cooked based solely on time, rather than inspection or temperature, despite the salmonella risks.
The potential impact on the nation’s public health could be significant, they warned.
There are more than four million cases of foodborne illness in Australia every year — 32,000 of which result in hospitalisation.
The researchers, led by academics at Kansas State University in the US, were concerned about the influence of celebrity chefs as role-models.
“As potential educators of appropriate cooking behaviours, these chefs instead either ignore food safety or at best demonstrate only very limited positive behaviours,” they wrote.
“The behaviours modelled by the chefs could lead to incidences of food-borne illness, especially among those who mimic their behaviours at home.”
However, they admitted that positive hygiene behaviours could have been edited out by producers because of their potential tediousness for viewers.