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article imageMost cookbooks give bad food safety advice

By Tim Sandle     Mar 31, 2017 in Health
Cooks beware. A new study has found that many bestselling cookbooks provide readers and would-be chefs with little in the way of useful advice about reducing food-safety risks. Worryingly, where advice is given it is often erroneous.
Cookbooks are big sellers and they contain a large variety of mouth-watering recipes. Well-written ones are easy to follow, but what most are missing, according to Ben Chapman from Carolina State University is sound advice on food safety. Areas of particular concern, according to Professor Chapman, is: "food-safety information related to cooking meat, poultry, seafood or eggs, and whether they were telling people to cook in a way that could affect the risk of contracting foodborne illness.”
To assess the extent of ‘missed messages’ about food safety, Professor Chapman and his team reviewed 1,497 recipes from 29 cookbooks. Each book had featured on New York Times best sellers lists. From the books, the recipes selected required the handling raw animal ingredients, such as meat, poultry, seafood or eggs.
Evaluating the recipes the researchers used three questions. These were:
Does the recipe tell readers to cook the dish to a specific internal temperature?
If it does include a temperature, is that temperature one that has been shown to be "safe"?
Does the recipe perpetuate food-safety myths -- such as saying to cook poultry until the juices "run clear" -- that have been proven unreliable as ways of determining if the dish has reached a safe temperature?
From this review, the researchers discovered that just 123 recipes -- 8 percent of those reviewed – guided the reader to cook the dish to a specific (and safe) temperature. Where temperatures were quoted these were invariably too low and thus carried the risk of foodborne bacteria surviving. In particular, 34 of the 123 recipes gave information that wasn’t safe.
Another concern was that almost all recipes reviewed only provided the reader with "subjective indicators" to ascertain when a dish was finished cooking. The researchers saw these as unreliable in terms of when a dish was finished cooking. An example of an inappropriate indicator was a phrase like “cook until done."
The study has been published in British Food Journal, in a paper titled “Evaluating food safety risk messages in popular cookbooks.”
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